Western Caucus Demands Answers From Biden Administration On Return To Obama-Era WOTUS

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressional Western Caucus and Senate Western Caucus Members, led by Chairman Dan Newhouse (WA-04), sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan and Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jaime Pinkham to express serious concerns with the Biden Administration’s decision to remand the 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR) and reopen the definition of “waters of the United States.”

“These steps demonstrate a misguided and out of touch approach toward addressing the needs of local communities across the country,” wrote the lawmakers. “The NWPR was an immense step forward in rectifying the regulatory overreach that was attempted in 2015, and your agencies’ vague announcement and opaque process fails to ensure our communities will not – once again – be subject to further uncertainty and government overreach.”

The lawmakers outline the unprecedented overreach of the failed Obama-era 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule and highlight the impacts that returning to a drastic expansion of federal jurisdiction over non-navigable waters will have on rural communities across the United States.

“Our farmers, ranchers, landowners, and small businesses have demonstrated a deep commitment to stewarding our waterways and lands, which is why this radical overreach was met with bipartisan opposition and concern that was even echoed by Administrator Regan during his confirmation process,” they wrote.

They continued, “Confusion, regulatory uncertainty, and litigation have surrounded the scope of federal authority of our nation’s navigable waterways for decades. With your recent actions, the Biden Administration is trampling upon this progress and further jeopardizing rural Americans’ confidence that this Administration is working in their best interest… Rural communities in the West and across the country are dedicated to clean water and do not deserve to be punished by far-reaching, burdensome federal regulations.”

The letter, which includes a list of questions for Administrator Regan and Acting Assistant Secretary Pinkham, underscores Rep. Miller-Meeks’ legislation, introduced with the support of 114 Members of Congress, expressing the sense of the House that clean water is a national priority and that the NWPR should not be withdrawn or vacated.

Full text of the letter can be found here