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GOP Blasts New WOTUS Definition

Republicans in the House and Senate are speaking out against the Biden administration’s final rule to expand the definition of “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act, according to E&E News (subscription).

The background: Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers released standards that the administration says will establish “a ‘durable’ explanation of what waterways get federal protection under law.”

GOP’s take: The move will add unnecessary costs and regulations to various industries and businesses, said Missouri Rep. Sam Graves, a top Republican member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

  • “‘Our economy continues to struggle with the economic crises brought about by the disastrous economic policies of this Administration, and it makes absolutely no sense to move the country back towards the costly and burdensome WOTUS regulations of the past,’ Graves said in a statement.”

Supreme Court weigh-in: According to GOP congressional leaders, the administration should have simply waited for the Supreme Court’s expected 2023 ruling on Sackett v. EPA.

  • North Carolina Rep. David Rouzer, a top Republican on the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee, said it was “ill-advised … for the [a]dministration to rush a new rule given the Court’s forthcoming decision will impact any new definition of WOTUS.”

Our view: “The EPA is unnecessarily rewriting critical permitting standards and tossing aside Supreme Court precedent in the process,” NAM Senior Vice President of Policy and Government Relations Aric Newhouse said in a statement last week.

  • “The EPA’s efforts to release a final WOTUS rule ahead of a consequential Supreme Court ruling—which directly impacts the Clean Water Act’s jurisdiction—only serves to create more permit uncertainty for manufacturers,” NAM Senior Director of Energy and Resources Policy Nile Elam told us.
  • “Efforts to implement the CHIPS Act, increase renewable energy deliverables and improve critical infrastructure projects will be hindered by additional permitting delays and arbitrary cost increases,” he added.
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