— U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, today spoke on the Senate floor opposing the nomination of Radhika Fox to be the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water. Ranking Member Capito previously voted against Ms. Fox in committee.


NONCOMMITTAL ON WOTUS: “At that markup in May, I noted that I could not support Ms. Fox at that time because she would not commit to maintaining the Navigable Waters Protection Rule issued in 2020. As I noted at that time, she also would not state that the 2015 Waters of the U.S. Rule was overreaching. So I really couldn’t pin her down on any opinion on this very important rule. I now know why she would not commit to maintaining the Navigable Waters Protection Rule when she testified before the Committee and avoided providing direct responses in her written responses to my follow-up questions. The administration did not support the rule, and apparently the EPA opposed it completely.”

CREATING LASTING POLICY: “Throughout her nomination process, when I asked Ms. Fox about the administration’s plans, she expressed a desire to hear from stakeholders in order to create a ‘durable’ rule. Ms. Fox did not conduct any formal, public stakeholder process before announcing the decision that was made to repeal the Navigable Waters Protection Rule. The administration has said it plans to repeal the rule – then put in place guidance from the 1980s – while we wait and while they come up with a replacement. Changing the regulations three times in a short period of time—2015, 2020, and now 2021—simply does not meet her commitment to develop a ‘durable’ definition. Instead, ever-changing rules create a game of regulatory ping pong across administrations.”

OVERREACHING AND OPAQUE: “The administration’s promises of transparency and creating regulatory certainty simply are not reflected in its actions. And their goals – stated to a briefing of congressional offices during a briefing call – are particularly troubling. They pointed to the prior converted cropland exemption and treatment of ditches under the current rule as ‘implementation challenges’ that they want to address. It doesn’t take much to understand what that means. The administration intends to require more federal permits for prior converted cropland and ditches on private land. That is a gross overreach of the federal government’s authority under the Clean Water Act, and it is questionable whether the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers could even vet the sheer volume of permit applications that would come their way.”

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