With the support of more than 90 agricultural groups, legislation was introduced in the Senate on April 30 to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from implementing its proposed rule on “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS).
Similar to legislation (H.R. 1732) pending in the House, the Federal Water Quality Protection Act (S. 1140) would require the agencies to withdraw their proposal and and restart the full rulemaking process to develop a new rule in consultation with stakeholders, state partners and regulated entities. Unlike its House counterpart, the Senate bill would also establish new parameters for identifying a water of the U.S.
Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) introduced the legislation with Senators Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) in a press conference on April 30.
“After working together for months, we’ve introduced a strong bipartisan bill that will protect America’s waterways – and America’s farmers, ranchers and landowners. Our legislation gives the EPA the direction it needs to write a reasonable rule that will truly protect our ‘navigable’ waterways,” said Barrasso. “By striking the right balance, we’ll keep our waterways safe and pristine and allow them to be used as natural resources. Our next step is to work together to ensure this bill moves quickly through Congress. It’s time for Washington to finally focus on preserving our rivers and lakes and delivering certainty to American citizens.”
The legislation reaffirms the original intent of the Clean Water Act and provides clear direction with regard to the types of water bodies that would not fall under federal regulation under the Clean Water Act such as groundwater, natural and manmade isolated ponds, storm water and flood water management systems, constructed water systems, prior converted cropland, municipal and industrial water supply management systems, and puddles.
The legislation also orders EPA and the Corps to review and respond to the more than 1 million comments on the original rule, conduct an economic analysis, review unfunded mandates, as well as other measures to be reported to Congress.
Watch Senator Pat Roberts, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry, comment on the Federal Water Quality Protection Act at an April 30 press conference here or below.
- Senators Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Protect Navigable Waters in the United States
- Chairman Roberts Helps Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Block EPA’s ‘Waters of the U.S.’ Proposed Rule
- Senators push again to kill EPA Waters of the U.S. proposal
- US Environmental Protection Agency: Clean Water Rule (information)
- Ditch the Rule