INHOFE RELEASES REPORT ON EPA, ARMY CORPS OVERREACH, CALLS FOR 11 SENATE DEMOCRATS TO WORK WITH CONGRESS TO ADDRESS WOTUS
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, today released an EPW Majority Committee report titled “From Preventing Pollution of Navigable and Interstate Waters to Regulating Farm Fields, Puddles and Dry Land: A Senate Report on the Expansion of Jurisdiction Claimed by the Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Water Act.” The report releases findings from the majority staff’s investigation into how the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers are interpreting and implementing their authority under the Clean Water Act.
“This new majority committee report demonstrates in detail that the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers, under the Obama administration, are running rogue,” Inhofe said. “Case studies in this report show that the Obama administration is already asserting federal control over land and water based on the concepts they are trying to codify in the WOTUS rule, even though the courts have put that rule on hold. Congress shouldn’t wait on the Supreme Court to make the inevitable decision that this agency overreach is illegal. This report should be evidence enough that it’s time for Democrats and Republicans to work together rein in EPA and the Corps. Over the course of the past year, 69 Senators – a veto proof majority – have gone on the record about their grave concerns regarding the WOTUS rule. It’s time to come together to protect farmers, ranchers, water utilities, local governments, and contractors by giving them the clarity and certainty they deserve and stopping EPA and the Corps from eroding traditional exemptions."
The report summarizes case studies that demonstrate the following:
- EPA and the Corps have and will continue to advance very broad claims of jurisdiction based on discretionary authority to define their own jurisdiction.
- The WOTUS rule would codify the agencies’ broadest theories of jurisdiction, which Justice Kennedy recently called “ominous.”
- Landowners will not be able to rely on current statutory exemptions or the new regulatory exemptions because the agencies have narrowed the exemptions in practice and simply regulate under another name. For example, the report highlights instances where if activity takes place on land that is wet:
- Plowing to shallow depths is not exempt when the Corps calls the soil between furrows “mini mountain ranges,” “uplands,” and “dry land;”
- Disking is regulated even though it is a type of plowing;
- Changing from one agricultural commodity constitutes a new use that eliminates the exemption; and
- Puddles, tire ruts, sheet flow, and standing water all can be renamed “disturbed wetlands” and regulated.
A copy of the report is available by clicking here.
On Tuesday, Inhofe delivered a copy of the report with a letter to 11 Senate Democrats who, in a letter on Nov. 3, 2015 to Gina McCarthy, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and Jo-Ellen Darcy, assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) on WOTUS, stated that: “Farmers, ranchers, water utilities, local governments, and contractors deserve [ ] clarity and certainty. Should the EPA not provide this clarity or enforce this rule in a way that erodes traditional exemptions, we reserve the right to support efforts in the future to revise the rule.”
In Inhofe’s letter to the 11 Senators, he said that the new committee report should meet the test set forth in their Nov. 3 letter, and he called on the members to live up to their commitment and work with the committee on tailored legislation to end agency overreach.
The letter is available by clicking here, and was sent to the each of the following: U.S. Sens. Angus King (I-Maine), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).
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