WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, released the below statement on the Biden administration issuing a revised “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule following the Supreme Court’s ruling against the administration’s prior definition, which was an illegal federal overreach that targeted farmers, ranchers, builders and landowners.
“Despite our warnings that the Biden WOTUS rule was clear regulatory overreach and the Supreme Court soundly rejecting its 'waters of the United States' definition, the administration continues to take an unserious approach to issuing a durable rule that provides stability to millions of Americans. I’m disappointed this rushed rule lacks public outreach and real transparency, results in a definition that is at odds with the law, and will likely be rejected once again in the courts.”
HISTORY OF CAPITO’S ACTIONS ON WOTUS:
In March 2023, the U.S. Senate passed Ranking Member Capito’s Congressional Review Act (CRA) joint resolution of disapproval that overturns President Biden’s overreaching WOTUS rule by a vote of 53-43.
In April 2022, Ranking Member Capito led 45 senators and 154 House members on an amicus curiae brief filed in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the petitioners in the pending case Sackett v. EPA. In May 2023, the Supreme Court ultimately ruled in favor of the petitioners and significantly narrowed the authority the federal government has over states and private citizens to regulate “waters of the United States” at the expense of states and private citizens under the Clean Water Act (CWA).
In September 2022 and again in May 2023, Ranking Member Capito led her Republican colleagues in introducing comprehensive federal regulatory permitting and project review reform legislation that would have codified the Trump administration’s NWPR definition of “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act.
In February 2022, Ranking Member Capito led her Republican colleagues on the EPW committee in a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Michael Connor specifically requesting the Biden administration immediately halt plans to finalize a novel definition of WOTUS under the Clean Water Act until after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Sackett v. EPA.
In November 2021, Ranking Member Capito issued a statement expressing her dismay at the announcement of the first step in EPA’s two-step process to replace the Trump administration’s 2020 NWPR and promulgate a new definition of WOTUS.
In August 2021, Ranking Member Capito sent a letter to EPA Administrator Regan and Jaime Pinkham, the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, asking for a more complete and comprehensive stakeholder engagement process regarding repealing and replacing NWPR. Specifically, Ranking Member Capito requested an extended public comment period for receiving recommendations.
That letter followed Ranking Member Capito’s previous letter requesting additional clarity on the basis for the decision to repeal and replace NWPR and yet another letter, which she led her Republican colleagues on the committee in sending, requesting increased transparency into the process of repealing NWPR.
In July 2021, Michael Connor, President Biden’s nominee to lead the Corps, admitted he wasn’t aware of any specific environmental degradation under NWPR.
Ranking Member Capito, along with Senators Cramer, Lummis, Inhofe, and Wicker, also introduced legislation in July 2021 that would codify NWPR.
In February 2021, the Senate passed an amendment introduced by Senator Capito that upheld the Trump administration’s NWPR.
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