"The scope of CWA jurisdiction is one of the most important regulatory issues facing landowners, businesses, and municipalities today," wrote the Senators. "The proposed ‘Waters of the U.S.' rule will exponentially impede economic recovery and is a significant step in the wrong direction. Mr. President, the decision to move forward would be a clear breach of your promise to cut through red tape."
The proposed WOTUS rule would significantly expand federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act (CWA) to include streams, ditches, and ponds, many of which are located on private property throughout the U.S.
Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), top Republican on the EPW Committee, has questioned the EPA's rushed approach toward the CWA rulemaking, and has raised concerns with the scientific review process, as well as the economic consequences of EPA's CWA regulations. Click here to read more.
Signing today's letter are Sens. Vitter, John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.)
Text of today's letter is below. Click here to see the PDF version.
April 9, 2014
The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Obama,
As members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, we write in response to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' (Corps) release of their proposed rule which would expand federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act (CWA). After an initial review of the proposed rule, we are deeply concerned that the agencies are attempting to obtain de facto land use authority over the property of families, neighborhoods and communities throughout the United States. Several provisions within the proposed rule demonstrate that EPA and the Corps are unwilling to accept the meaningful limits Congress placed on the agencies' authority under the CWA, limits the Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized. These include the proposed rule's categorical regulation of irrigation and stormwater ditches, unlimited aggregation approach, and broad adjacency definition. The proposed rule would also have EPA and the Corps making case-by-case jurisdictional determinations based on the "significant nexus" test, even as they ominously assert that a "hydrologic connection is not necessary to establish a significant nexus."
Equally important, we believe EPA and the Corps should immediately cease in their proclamations that the agencies' proposal is a justified response to various calls for a CWA rulemaking. In fact, EPA and the Corps are using rulemaking requests as an excuse to pursue a rushed, predetermined agenda, as opposed to engaging in a deliberative, fair, and transparent regulatory process. EPA and the Corps chose to release their proposed rule despite failing to 1) sufficiently consult with affected states; 2) allow for completion of the Science Advisory Board review of the so-called "Connectivity Report"; and 3) conduct a statutorily-required small business analysis and outreach pursuant to the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), among other mandatory procedures. EPA and the Corps' decision to proceed despite the numerous concerns identified by lawmakers and stakeholders is incredibly disappointing.
The scope of CWA jurisdiction is one of the most important regulatory issues facing landowners, businesses, and municipalities today. Although EPA and the Corps may have a role in clarifying and limiting CWA jurisdiction, unfortunately the agencies' rule proposal was a significant step in the wrong direction. The decision to move forward with this proposal is a clear breach of your promise to cut through red tape. In light of other recent CWA permitting decisions that have occurred during your administration, moving forward with the proposed rule will exponentially frustrate economic activity and further undermine notions of certainty in the federal permitting process.
James M. Inhofe
- 04-09-14 EPW WOTUS letter to POTUS - (436.5 KBs)