WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last week, U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, led all 48 of her Senate Republican colleagues in introducing a formal challenge to the Biden administration’s Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule through a Congressional Review Act (CRA) joint resolution of disapproval (S.J. Res. 7). An identical resolution was introduced by more than 150 members of the House of Representatives, led by U.S. Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.-06), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Numerous industry leaders and stakeholders have issued statements of support for the effort to overturn this rule, which will lead to sweeping changes to the federal government’s authority to regulate what is considered a navigable water, with enormous impacts on small businesses, manufacturers, farmers, home and infrastructure builders, local communities, water districts, and private property owners:

American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) President Zippy Duvall: “Farmers and ranchers are committed to protecting the land and water they rely on to grow food for America’s families. Unfortunately, the back and forth over water regulations threatens the progress made to responsibly manage natural resources. We appreciate Congressmen Sam Graves and David Rouzer, and Senator Shelley Moore Capito for introducing a joint resolution to use the Congressional Review Act to stop the new Waters of the U.S. rule from going into effect. Farmers deserve rules that don’t require a team of attorneys and consultants to identify ‘navigable waters’ on their land.”

American Pipeline Contractors Association (APCA): “The American Pipeline Contractors Association is grateful for the introduction of this Congressional Review Act resolution and urges Congress to come together and swiftly overturn the new burdensome and unnecessary WOTUS regulations. There is widespread understanding in Washington that permitting reforms and regulatory overhaul are necessary to meet infrastructure goals and unlock the full potential of American energy, but this decision from the administration directly contradicts those goals. APCA urges the Biden administration to roll back this regulation as soon as possible and to instead work with Congress to undertake meaningful action toward reforming pipeline and general construction permitting processes.”

American Road & Transportation Builders Association Vice President of Legal & Regulatory Issues Nick Goldstein: “The recent Waters of the United States definition from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would add more delay and confusion to the delivery of critical transportation improvements.  By muddying federal Clean Water Act jurisdiction, EPA’s regulation directly contradicts the bipartisan infrastructure law’s goal of improving the project review and approval process. That’s why ARTBA supports House and Senate legislation to rescind the WOTUS rule.”

American Soybean Association (ASA) President Daryl Cates: “We appreciate Representatives Graves and Rouzer for leading important efforts to rescind the recently released Waters of the U.S. rule, which in no way provides the clear, nationwide regulatory certainty farmers and land managers have requested repeatedly. In the latest WOTUS iteration, EPA and Army Corps use a confusing two-part standard to identify which waters are considered WOTUS—continuing to rely on the ‘significant nexus’ standard that is currently before the Supreme Court in Sackett v. EPA, and expanding the reach of the ‘relatively permanent’ standard compared to the much-maligned 2015 rule. Additional changes to the longstanding ‘prior converted cropland’ provisions will possibly stifle ag owners’ ability to sell their land to those they choose. We need champions in Congress to continue pushing for reversal of these potentially damaging provisions.”

Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Vice President of Legislative and Political Affairs Kristen Swearingen: “ABC supports Chairmen Graves and Rouzer’s joint resolution and applauds their leadership to resolve the uncertainty surrounding the scope of federal authority under the Clean Water Act, which has resulted in litigation and regulatory confusion in the business community. Further, ABC calls on Congress to codify the ABC-supported Navigable Waters Protection Rule’s definition of WOTUS under the Clean Water Act. For decades, ABC has supported the EPA and the Corps maintaining a clear and concise definition of WOTUS, which was implemented in the 2020 NWPR final rule so that our members had the information they need to comply with the law while also serving as good stewards of the environment.”

Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) Vice President of Government Relations Jimmy Christianson: “Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Sam Graves are right to express disapproval with the administration’s overreach and expansion of the waters of the United States regulatory program. AGC is disappointed that the agencies rushed through the sixth change in the requirements, in almost as many years, just as the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to decide on a related case. Employers try in good faith to keep pace with ever-shifting requirements that carry criminal as well as civil penalties for noncompliance.”

Distribution Contractors Association (DCA) Executive Vice President Rob Darden: “DCA strongly supports this joint resolution along with other legislation that would overturn the Biden Administration’s WOTUS rule issued last month.  Federal policy that expands permitting requirements on ditches and other areas that clearly do not equate to navigable waters will unnecessary delay or ultimately reject needed construction projects and create hardships for construction entities trying to comply with unclear and ever-changing requirements at a time when rebuilding America’s infrastructure is supposed to be a national priority.”

Energy Marketers of America (EMA) President Rob Underwood: “The Energy Marketers of America (EMA) recognize the enormous impacts the Biden Administration’s ‘Waters of the United States’ rule will place on small business energy marketers. In large part, WOTUS will determine whether costly land use restrictions will be imposed on new building or expansion projects such as adding renewable liquid fuel pumps and/or electric charging stations. EMA supports the joint resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act on the Biden Administration’s WOTUS rule.”

Leading Builders of America CEO Ken Gear: “Families in every state in the nation are facing housing affordability challenges.  We are experiencing a severe shortage of homes that are attainability for working and middle income families.  A primary driver of this crisis is increasingly expensive land and development costs. These costs add tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of each home we build. Building workforce housing that is affordable when it can take years of costly litigation and red tape under the ambiguous Clean Water Act, is nearly impossible.  We need a WOTUS rule that sets clear parameters and allows for quick and efficient permitting decisions without the need for litigation or years of agency review. Make no mistake, the WOTUS rule is about affordable housing.”

National Association of Manufacturers (NAM): “The EPA is unnecessarily rewriting critical permitting standards and tossing aside Supreme Court precedent in the process. This moving target frustrates efforts to expand domestic manufacturing and create well-paying jobs. Manufacturers cannot invest with confidence when the rules keep changing. Manufacturers need a sensible WOTUS proposal that provides permitting certainty and allows the industry to continue leading on environmental stewardship.”

National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) CEO Ted McKinney: “The EPA’s latest rule on defining ‘waters of the United States’ is a statement of significant federal overreach that ignores long-held states’ authority to regulate intrastate water quality and with it, the Clean Water Act’s statutory mandate for cooperative federalism. NASDA appreciates efforts by Chairman Sam Graves and Subcommittee Chair David Rouzer, as well as their Senate counterparts, for their work in leading joint resolutions of disapproval.”

National Cotton Council (NCC): “National Cotton Council Chairman Ted Schneider said the NCC applauds the efforts of Congress through use of the Congressional Review Act to bring back certainty and transparency to the rules surrounding Waters of the United States. The Louisiana cotton producer reiterated that U.S. agriculture needs a WOTUS rule which ‘provides clarity and consistency, is not overly burdensome to farmers and landowners and that can protect our nation’s water infrastructure.’”

National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Vice President of Federal Government Relations Kevin Kuhlman: “America’s farmers, ranchers, developers, contractors, and other small businesses have been greatly affected by the ongoing changes to WOTUS standards. This overreaching final rule increases compliance burdens and uncertainty for small businesses as they wait to hear from the Supreme Court. Your leadership to repeal this burdensome rule is crucial for small businesses across America and we look forward to working with you to reduce the regulatory and compliance burdens faced by small businesses.”

National Mining Association President and CEO Rich Nolan: “Issuing this rule now – amidst calls from Congress and impacted stakeholders to await the Supreme Court’s ruling on the scope of the Clean Water Act – is a clear signal of the EPA’s intent to charge ahead with its own agenda regardless of the law or authority from Congress to do so. Given the exponential increase in demand for mined materials expected in the coming years, what the mining industry needs is a clear, consistent and predictable regulatory framework; instead, it is getting more confusion and uncertainty that will make it increasingly difficult and expensive to mine. The mining industry is committed to protecting our nation’s treasured water resources and we support regulatory efforts to achieve that end, but this rule is only about obstructing projects, not responsible regulation.”

National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) President Sharon Wilson Géno and National Apartment Association (NAA) President and Chief Executive Officer Bob Pinnegar: “The recently announced WOTUS rule will significantly increase the number of properties that will now need to seek expensive federal permits to develop or redevelop housing. This additional requirement will create uncertainty and delays in permitting, potentially adding significant expenses and creating legal risks that will exacerbate the nation’s housing affordability crisis. At a time when housing costs are already on the rise, housing providers need clear, consistent and practical water protection standards. We should be looking for ways to improve housing affordability, not worsen it.”

National Rural Electric Cooperative Association Senior Vice President of Government Relations Louis Finkel: “EPA’s final rule expands the reach of WOTUS and creates substantial regulatory uncertainty for electric co-ops. It will further complicate and slow permitting for electric infrastructure projects, which are vital for ensuring energy affordability and reliability for American families and businesses. We thank Ranking Member Capito and Chairman Graves for their leadership and for taking this important step that will help electric co-ops reliably keep the lights on at a cost that consumers can afford.”

National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA) Vice President of Government and Regulatory Affairs: “NSSGA members provide our nation with the materials that build America. However, with the implementation of the new WOTUS rule, our industry now faces more uncertainty than ever before. It is for these reasons that NSSGA would like to thank Chairman Graves and Congressman Rouzer for leading this joint resolution of disapproval of the Biden administration's WOTUS rule. This act provides a much-needed check on federal agencies and ensures that the rulemaking process is transparent and accountable. We call on all members of Congress to support this legislation.”

National Utility Contractors Association Chief Executive Officer Doug Carlson: “Utility construction projects need predictability to make project deadlines and contain costs. The Biden Administration’s repeal of the Trump Administration's clean-up of the WOTUS rules is going to add unnecessary confusion and delays to this industry's projects. Contractors will now be faced with more uncertainty when trying to comply with the new WOTUS rules, an outcome that will face even more confusion with a pending U.S. Supreme Court ruling on these regulations. The Biden Administration’s regulatory change was not needed, not at this time with so many infrastructure projects starting this year. NUCA strongly supports T&I Chairman Sam Graves and subcommittee Chairman David Rouzer’s resolution of disapproval to rescind this WOTUS rule change.”

Plastics Pipe Institute President David Fink: “The WOTUS debate has presented extensive and enduring challenges for the construction and manufacturing industries since it began many years ago. The latest version of this rule issued by EPA last month presents another moving target when it comes to compliance and will inevitably impede efforts to expand domestic manufacturing and create well-paying jobs. While the rule provides a list of exemptions, it discards the scores of stakeholders who have long sought clarification on this issue, especially regarding the debate over what is and is not a navigable water.”

Power and Communication Contractors Association (PCCA): “The Power and Communication Contractors Association strongly supports the Congressional Review Act resolution introduced by Chairman Graves and Rep Rouzer, which would overturn the Biden administration’s ill-advised changes to WOTUS. PCCA members across the country are working tirelessly to expand access to high-speed broadband, modernize and strengthen our nation's electric grid, and provide the essential workforce for these and many other critical infrastructure projects. However, burdensome federal regulations and policies have slowed work and jeopardize the goals set by the Biden administration to achieve universal access to broadband and a modern electric grid within the next decade. Instead of critical permitting reforms and similar regulatory updates, this decision rolls back positive changes made during the last administration. We commend the action Congress is taking to reverse this decision and urge the administration to work with Congress to develop a better standard that meets the needs of all Americans.”

U.S. Chamber of Commerce: “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce commends Chairman Graves, Chairman Rouzer, and the many other Members of Congress for their leadership in proposing a Congressional Review Act resolution for the Biden Administration’s Waters of the U.S. rule. America needs clear, less burdensome water policy so that we can permit and build for the future. We urge Congress to pass this important legislation in short order to ensure the immediate elimination of the Administration’s unnecessary, confusing, and legally problematic federal regulatory expansion, and to provide the certainty that businesses, landowners, and state and local governments need.”

USA Rice Federation Chairman, and a Mississippi rice farmer, Kirk Satterfield: “Rice farmers are committed to protecting our farms and the environment as we face tremendous pressures maintaining our nation’s food security, from high input costs to unfair trade competition, and everything in between. Cumbersome and overly vague regulations like the Biden Administration’s new WOTUS rule will further challenge our ability to produce rice safely and sustainably for consumers at home and abroad. USA Rice supports efforts in Congress to repeal this new rule.”

Full text of S.J. Res. 7 can be found here.

A one-pager can be found here.

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