WASHINGTON, D.C. ― Sept. 20, members of the Congressional Western Caucus released the following statements calling for full repeal of the Obama Administration’s Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule through the final conference report of the Farm Bill or through the passage of the Department of the Interior, Environment, Financial Services, and General Government Appropriations Act of 2019:
Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden (OR-02): “In my meetings throughout rural Oregon, farmers, ranchers, and property owners have repeatedly expressed their concerns about the overreaching WOTUS rule and the impact on their lives. This heavy-handed rule ignored Congressional intent and expanded EPA’s jurisdiction far beyond navigable waterways. The definition of “waters of the United States” should not include everything from stock ponds to irrigation ditches, as this creates great uncertainty and threatens jobs and livelihoods across the West. It’s past time to take concrete action to appropriately redefine waters of the United States, repeal the flawed original rule, and stand up for rural communities in Oregon and across the country.”
Rep. Tom Reed (NY-23): “I care about those who have endured years of bureaucratic abuse by the Waters of the United States rule and urge a quick repeal. This rule is a stark example of Washington overreach. It unfairly threatens the livelihood of our local farmers and violates the rights of property owners. While limited regulations are necessary to protect the environment, local waterways should remain primarily under local control and private property rights must be respected.”
Rep. Kevin Cramer (ND-At Large): “There have been very few regulations in recent history more detrimental to agriculture, energy, and development in North Dakota than the Obama-era Waters of the U.S. rule imposed on us by the previous Administration. The House-passed Farm Bill rolled back this burdensome rule and included other reasonable regulatory reforms that all Members can get behind.”
Chairman Paul Gosar (AZ-04): “WOTUS has been a threat to the livelihoods and property of hard-working Americans since it was announced in March of 2014 by President Obama and then EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. The EPA’s unlawful water grab runs contrary to previous Supreme Court decisions, state water law and existing compacts. Now thanks to the ruling of one federal judge and a lack of leadership by Congress to date, WOTUS is the law of the land in more than 20 states. Important infrastructure projects, jobs, private property rights and economic growth are all in jeopardy as a result of this overreaching mandate. Congress has a duty to repeal this Obama-era regulation once and for all and must act before November in order to ensure this unnecessary expansion of bureaucratic power is put out to pasture.”
Chairman Emeritus Steve Pearce (NM-02): “The previous Administration’s decision to allow more federal control to regulate small streams and natural and manmade ditches across lands that are owned by farmers, ranchers, and small businesses is undoubtedly an unlawful expansion of power. It is urgent that the repeal of WOTUS is done immediately, in order to cut the government red tape which hurts land management and job growth.”
Chief Rules Officer Dan Newhouse (WA-04): “I have voted numerous times to repeal the onerous WOTUS rule because it gives unprecedented power to unelected bureaucrats to reinterpret the definition of a ‘navigable waterway’ – negatively affecting farmers and ranchers across the country and in Central Washington. I supported the repeal of WOTUS in both the Farm Bill and the Interior appropriations package, and I urge the conferees of these pieces of legislation to maintain this repeal to give agriculture communities the certainty they deserve.”
Rep. Tom Emmer (MN-06): “From the beginning I have stood in strong opposition to the so-called WOTUS rule which was, at its core, a gross overreach by the previous administration. Like all Minnesotans, I believe that we need to be good stewards of our land and waterways, but mud puddles and activities like putting up a fence in the backyard should not be under federal control. Further, our nation’s farmers, manufacturers and home builders need greater certainty. It’s time to repeal this rule, get the federal government out of the way and return power back to the states.”
Rep. Debbie Lesko (AZ-08): “The Obama Administration’s Waters of the United States rule not only decimates states’ and individual property rights, but also hampers economic growth. Repealing WOTUS will not only reverse this executive overreach, but restore power to Arizona’s farmers, ranchers, and landowners. This year’s Farm Bill must include a WOTUS fix.”
Rep. Jim Banks (IN-03): “After a recent ruling out of South Carolina caused WOTUS to go back into effect in half the country, Congress must include my amendment in the final Farm Bill to permanently repeal the onerous rule. It’s time to provide farmers, ranchers and landowners across America with certainty and freedom from overbearing federal regulations.”
Rep. Morgan Griffith (VA-09): “The Obama Administration unlawfully overstepped its authority with the Waters of the United States rule. By redefining the lands protected by the Clean Water Act, the Federal Government assumed vast regulatory power over new areas. This unconstitutional overreach should be undone, and farmers and landowners deserve the certainty that would be provided by congressional action to repeal WOTUS.”
Rep. Markwayne Mullin (OK-02): “The Waters of the United States Rule is a prime example of government overreach. The federal government should never be responsible for regulating every stream, creek, and ditch across the country. I continue to support a full repeal of WOTUS to prevent a job-killing, red tape regulation that’s bad for farmers, ranchers, landowners, and business from going into effect.”
Rep. Mike Johnson (LA-04): “The federal government should have no control over backyard ditches and mud puddles, but that is exactly what the Obama administration tried to do with the so called ‘WOTUS’ rule. This infamous move has been detrimental not only to our hardworking farmers and builders, but to the entire energy industry as a whole. Congress has the responsibility to provide a permanent, statutory answer on the merits of this rule and should act swiftly to nullify ‘WOTUS’ in its entirety.”
Rep. Doug LaMalfa (CA-01): “While a federal judge struck down the EPA’s two-year WOTUS delay, it doesn’t change the fact that this rule is nothing more than a power grab and should not be forced on the American people. Under this regulation, unelected bureaucrats are given authority to regulate nearly every pond and puddle in the United States. That’s simply not acceptable. This fight must be continued until WOTUS is fully repealed.”
Rep. Louie Gohmert (TX-01): “The Waters of the U.S. regulation is one of the greatest unconstitutional takings of authority by federal bureaucrats in the last 100 years. Now, unfortunately, there are federal judges who could care less what the Constitution says as they condone increasing federal government intrusions. In previous times, such communistic thinking would have landed them in jail for attempting to remake us in the image of the old, failed Soviet Union. That is why it is absolutely critical that Congress reign in this federal power-grab and ensure that private property is protected.”
One of the Western Caucus’ main priorities is repealing the Obama Administration’s Water of the United States (WOTUS) rule, which was finalized by former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. WOTUS negatively impacts states throughout the country by impeding upon state’s rights, encroaching on private lands, and violating the civil liberties of many Americans. On 05/21/2018, Western Caucus Member Jim Banks (IN-03) introduced an amendment to the Farm Bill that would repeal WOTUS. It passed the House with a bipartisan vote of 238-173 and 13 Democrats supporting repeal.
- View the Western Caucus Press Release here.
- View letter sent to Farm Bill Conferees by Reps. Banks and Walker, Western Caucus Members and 51 total Members urging repeal of WOTUS here.
On 07/19/2018, H.R. 6147, the Department of the Interior, Environment, Financial Services, and General Government Appropriations Act of 2019 passed the House of Representatives.
- One of the numerous provisions that the bill contained was a Western Caucus provision to repeal WOTUS.
- View the Western Caucus Press Release here.
Western Caucus predicted a rogue judge could strike down the EPA’s two-year delay and urged leadership to repeal WOTUS last March in the omnibus as a result.
- WOTUS is now live in 22 states.
- Recently, Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Iowa received relief and are no longer required to follow WOTUS after recent court injunctions.
Last Congress, more than 170 bipartisan members cosponsored legislation calling for WOTUS to be repealed and another 120 bipartisan signed a letter urging repeal. That request can be found here.
On March 25, 2014, the EPA and the Corps of Engineers released a proposed rule that would assert Clean Water Act jurisdiction over nearly all areas with even the slightest of connections to water resources, including man-made conveyances. Specifically, WOTUS attempts to expand agency control over 60% of our country’s streams and millions of acres of wetlands that were previously non-jurisdictional.
More than 200 organizations and local municipalities have publicly declared their opposition to WOTUS.