WASHINGTON (Sept. 30, 2015) – Today the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Water held a hearing on the Army Corps of Engineers’ participation in the “waters of the United States” regulation. The subcommittee focused on internal memos released by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. While the memos show the Corps leadership having serious concerns with the science underlying the WOTUS rule, Jo Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary of the Army insisted, as co-author, the Corps supported the final rule.
The hearing provided ample opportunity to highlight the issues raised in the memos and the gulf between the Corps and EPA in the arbitrary standards used in the final rule. Philip Ellis, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association president and Chugwater, Wyo., cattleman, said the arbitrary nature of this rule poses a danger to all land uses.
“This rule is clearly not based on science, nor does it relate to keeping our waters clean,” said Ellis. “It is a transparent land grab by the administration and EPA. Cattlemen and women will continue to oppose this rule in Congress and in the courtroom. This rule and the flawed rulemaking process underlie the need for legislation to withdraw the rule and compel the agencies to work with all stakeholders.”
The WOTUS rule became effective in all but 13 states on August 28. A Federal Circuit Judge in North Dakota granted a temporary preliminary injunction on implementation of the WOTUS rule in the case brought by the 13 states before his court. Since enforcement of the rule, 31 states and numerous stakeholders, including the NCBA and Public Lands Council, have engaged in 22 lawsuits challenging EPA’s transparent lack of authority to regulate all waters in the United States.
NCBA and PLC support S. 1140, the Federal Water Quality Protection Act, bipartisan legislation that would direct the EPA to withdraw the final WOTUS rule and work with stakeholders in drafting a new rule to clarify the Clean Water Act.