Click here to watch Chairman Barrasso’s remarks.  

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), delivered the following remarks at a hearing titled “Stakeholder Reactions: The Navigable Waters Protection Rule under the Clean Water Act.” 

The hearing featured testimony from Ray Gaesser, owner-operator of Gaesser Farms; Douglas Davis, Jr., president and chief executive officer of Fletcher Davis Company; and Rebecca Roose, director of the water protection division at the New Mexico Environment Department. 

For more information on witness testimony click here. 

Senator Barrasso’s remarks: 

“Today, the Committee will examine the Trump administration’s ‘Navigable Waters Protection Rule’ defining ‘Waters of the U.S.’ under the Clean Water Act.

“The new rule went into effect in June of 2020. 

“The 2020 rule replaces the Obama administration’s illegal rule issued in 2015 that gave Washington almost boundless control over what Americans could do on their property. 

“The Senate opposed the 2015 rule. 

“We passed a Congressional Review Act resolution in 2015, sponsored by Senator Ernst, who is a valued member of the committee and who is here with us, again, today. 

“President Obama vetoed that resolution after it passed the House in 2016.

“President Trump signed an Executive Order during the first months of his presidency directing his administration to do away with the 2015 rule. 

“The Trump administration repealed the Obama-era rule last year. 

“In April of this year, the Trump administration published its replacement, the Navigable Waters Protection Rule.

“The new rule is clear and limited. 

“It is broadly supported by landowners, by businesses, and by states. 

“23 states are supporting the rule in court, including my home state of Wyoming.

“President Trump’s rule will not regulate puddles, or prairie potholes, or dry land. 

“It follows Congressional intent and recognizes that landowners and states, not Washington, should lead the protection of most water and property in our country. 

“Washington should have a limited role grounded in interstate commerce. 

“Federal regulations, which are overly broad, can actually discourage innovative practices to protect our land and water. 

“In addition, confusing and punishing regulations serve as a drag on our economy without environmental benefit. 

“We can have clean water and a growing economy at the same time. 

“The Trump administration also worked to ensure that its agencies collaborated on the new rule.  

“This contrasts sharply with how the Obama administration operated. 

“In 2017, our committee held a hearing on the old Waters of the U.S. rule. 

“We heard from retired Major General John Peabody, a former commanding general for Civil and Emergency Operations at the Corps of Engineers. 

“He testified that the Obama administration’s rule was not based on the Army Corps’ expertise and experience. 

“In fact, the Army Corps was shut out of the process of writing the final rule and the support documents. 

“The Army Corps is the agency that performs the inspections that identify what water is federally regulated.

“If the rule was not based on the Army Corps’ experience, that means it has no technical basis. 

“It was a blatant government power grab by Washington’s unelected bureaucrats. 

“By contrast, the Trump administration has shown a collaborative approach in developing the Navigable Waters Protection Rule. 

“Together, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers developed a simplified, clear definition of Waters of the U.S. that respects the law and the Constitution. 

“The Trump administration’s replacement rule restores balance between the states and Washington. 

“The new Waters of the U.S. Rule avoids needless duplication that provides no additional environmental benefit.

“I applaud the administration for its recognition that clear rules also require consistent application. 

“Now that the new rule is out, EPA and the Army Corps are working on fostering consistent application of the rule.

“The administration has already issued documents and tools to guide implementation in key areas. 

“To ensure consistency, the administration plans to conduct internal reviews at regular intervals to check that decisions are consistent no matter what region of the country they impact. 

“This is a good start. 

“The Navigable Waters Protection Rule is a great example of Washington listening to the people to develop clear rules that result in clean water.”