March 9, 2022- Washington, D.C. - U.S. Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO), Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Ranking Member David Rouzer (R-NC), and Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Dan Newhouse (R-WA) are leading 201 House Republicans in renewing calls for the Biden administration to drop its plan to expand the scope of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS).
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), and House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-NY) are among the Republicans who also signed the letter.
Beyond their opposition to the unnecessary burdens a broader WOTUS definition would have on businesses, communities, and private citizens, the Members strongly oppose such a move until the recently announced WOTUS-related Supreme Court case (Sackett) is decided. In a letter to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael S. Regan and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Michael L. Conner (Agencies), they argue that a premature rulemaking would cause more confusion for impacted parties, waste taxpayer resources, and hinder efforts to improve U.S. infrastructure and protect clean water.
“We urge the EPA and the Corps to halt all current rulemaking actions surrounding the WOTUS definition as the United States Supreme Court takes up this landmark case. The Agencies should instead use this time to continue meaningful engagement with stakeholders…,” the Members wrote. “This would allow the Agencies to fully understand and account for the impacts to small businesses, farmers, rural communities, and countless other stakeholders that will result from any regulatory change to the definition of WOTUS.”
The Members detailed their firm opposition to the current WOTUS rulemaking:
· A Supreme Court ruling on WOTUS later this year will have significant impacts on any rule the Agencies put forward. A premature rulemaking will compound existing uncertainty and confusion for stakeholders, who have already experienced years of uncertainty over WOTUS definition and scope changes.
· The Agencies have stated their rulemaking will take into account “updates to be consistent with relevant Supreme Court decisions.” With such a significant decision pending, refusing to push pause on their current rewrite rather than wait for the Supreme Court’s action could lead to another complete rewrite just months down the line, wasting taxpayer resources.
· A broader WOTUS rule will delay, obstruct, and drive up the costs of improving U.S. infrastructure, and ultimately diminish the value of funding for projects across the country, including those funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
· Due to the WOTUS rulemaking’s anticipated negative impact on small businesses, the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy has already requested the Agencies pause and a Small Business Advocacy Review (SBAR) panel be held.
Click here to read the full letter.