WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, today led her Republicans colleagues on the committee in a letter to Michael Regan, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator, and Jaime Pinkham, the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works. The letter follows Ranking Member Capito’s previous letter looking for additional clarity on the decision to repeal and replace the 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR).

“[S]ince the announcement, EPA officials have made a number of public statements to the press and before Congress on the decision to repeal and replace the NWPR and provided details on the timeline and process to gather key stakeholder input. Many of these statements are inconsistent with or absent from the few details that have actually been provided to committee, and in many instances contradict input from stakeholders,” the senators wrote.

In addition to Ranking Member Capito, the letter was signed by Senators Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). 

The letter follows legislation Ranking Member Capito introduced yesterday that would codify the Navigable Waters Protection Rule.

The full letter can be read here.


In 2015, the Obama administration finalized a rule that expanded the definition of the Waters of the United States, creating confusion and burdensome red tape for agriculture and coal industries across the country.

The Trump administration released a proposed rule to replace the Obama administration’s 2015 WOTUS rule with a new rule that provided much-needed predictability and certainty for farmers by establishing clear and reasonable definitions of what qualifies as a “water of the United States.” The new NWPR was finalized last year. Specifically, the NWPR established a definition that unambiguously identifies four simple categories of jurisdictional waters, provides clear exclusions for many water features—water features that traditionally have not been regulated at the federal level—and defines terms in the regulatory text that have never been defined before. The NWPR also protects the environment while respecting the cooperative federalism framework of the Clean Water Act. Specifically, it clearly delineates where federal regulations apply and gives states and local authorities more flexibility to determine how to best manage waters within their borders.

On day one of his administration, President Biden signed an executive order that would roll back the Trump administration’s actions of rescinding Obama’s WOTUS rule and finalizing the NWPR. In January, Ranking Member Capito and 25 of her Senate colleagues introduced a resolution that expresses the need for the U.S. Senate to uphold the NWPR.

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