WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), released the following statement on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) announcement of the replacement for the illegal 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. 

“President Trump is delivering on his promise to give Americans clean water and clear rules,” said Barrasso. “Regulations must follow the law and be easy for Americans to understand. The Trump administration respects the authority Congress gave EPA under the Clean Water Act. 

“The old WOTUS rule put Washington in control of ponds, puddles, and prairie potholes. The punishing regulation was so confusing that property owners and businesses could not determine when permits were needed. Even worse, it inserted Washington into local decision making. This overreach put unfair restrictions on how farmers, ranchers, and landowners could use their property. I will continue to work closely with the Trump administration as it seeks commonsense ways to keep America’s water clean and safe.” 

Background Information 

On June 12, 2019, the EPW committee held an oversight hearing titled “A Review of Waters of the U.S. Regulations: Their Impact on States and the American People.” At the hearing, stakeholders testified on how regulations defining WOTUS under the Clean Water Act affected them.

On September 27, 2017, Barrasso, along with committee members Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), John Boozman (R-AR), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and Richard Shelby (R-AL), sent a letter to the EPA and Corps in support of the proposed withdrawal of the 2015 WOTUS rule. 

On April 26, 2017, the EPW committee held an oversight hearing titled “A Review of the Technical, Scientific, and Legal Basis of the WOTUS Rule.” At the hearing, Chairman Barrasso called for the withdrawal of the fundamentally flawed rule. Witnesses testified that the 2015 WOTUS rule is not supported by the Corps’ experience and expertise, scientific studies, or the law.

On February 28, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order to review and then revise or rescind the 2015 WOTUS rule. Barrasso attended the order’s signing ceremony at the White House. 

On April 30, 2015, Barrasso, along with Senators Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Joe Manchin (D-WV), led a bipartisan group of senators in introducing the Federal Water Quality Protection Act (S. 1140). Barrasso’s bill directed the EPA and Corps to issue a revised WOTUS rule that protects navigable water from water pollution, while also protecting farmers, ranchers and private landowners.