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’s (Army) announcement of the applicability date of the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule.

The new applicability date will be two years after today’s action is published in the Federal Register, during which time both agencies will continue the process of reconsidering the overreaching Obama-era rule.

“The Obama administration’s outrageous Waters of the United States rule would have put backyard ponds, puddles, and farm fields under Washington’s control,” said Barrasso. “Today’s action will give Wyoming’s ranchers, farmers, small businesses, and communities clarity. This delay gives the Trump administration time to revise this rule. The punishing WOTUS rule must be replaced with commonsense policy that protects America’s waters and respects state and local authority.”

On June 27, 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 WOTUS rule is not supported by:

  • Army Corps of Engineers experience and expertise;
  • scientific studies; or
  • the law.

Background Information

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 Army Corps of Engineers to issue a revised WOTUS rule that protects navigable water from water pollution, while also protecting farmers, ranchers and private landowners.

On Feb. 28, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order to revise the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers’ WOTUS rule. Barrasso attended the order’s signing ceremony at the White House.

On May 3, 2017, the EPA began the regular inter-agency review process by delivering to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) a draft rule to withdraw the WOTUS rule.