WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), and 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 Environment Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt and Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army Douglas Lamont in support of the proposed withdrawal of the 2015 “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule.
The letter applauds Administrator Pruitt’s efforts to remove the problematic rule and highlights the need for its withdrawal.
In the letter, the senators emphasize that the 2015 WOTUS rule is contrary to law. “The courts have been clear that a federal agency may not exceed the statutory authority granted to it by Congress,” write the senators. Congress never granted the EPA the authority to regulate in many of the areas covered by the 2015 WOTUS rule.
The letter also notes how the 2015 WOTUS rule is arbitrary and not based on agency expertise or supported by scientific evidence. The senators write “the Corps of Engineers (Corps) is the agency that makes the vast majority of jurisdictional determinations that identify waters that are regulated under the Clean Water Act. However, according to memoranda sent by Major General John Peabody, former Deputy Commanding General for Civil and Emergency Operations, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to Assistant Secretary Darcy on April 24, 2015, and on May 15, 2015, EPA shut the Corps of Engineers out of the development of the WOTUS rule. These memoranda state that the WOTUS rule is not based on the experience and expertise of the Corps.”
The senators continue to emphasize that the 2015 WOTUS rule has little chance of surviving judicial review. “The indefensibility of the 2015 rule also is a justification for its withdrawal. In addition to the grounds stated by the courts staying the 2015 WOTUS rule, it’s notable that the Corps raised similar concerns before the final rule was issued.”
The senators close the letter by calling on the agencies to reissue a new rule that more accurately defines the Waters of the United States. “We urge EPA and the Corps to develop a replacement WOTUS rule as soon as possible. The definition of waters of the United States has been the subject of many years of litigation, which could be brought to rest by a scientifically sound WOTUS rule that respects the intent of Congress.”
Read the full letter here.