WASHINGTON—United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has joined Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and 31 other GOP colleagues in introducing legislation codifying the 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR).
With the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) promising to replace the NWPR with a new rule that goes even further than the Obama-era Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rule, this legislation is needed now more than ever. If the NWPR is replaced, the EPA could go as far as to regulate ditches on private lands and converted croplands, which could ultimately inflict severe harm upon the agriculture, construction, home building, forestry, mining, and energy sectors of the economy.
“If the Biden Administration moves forward with replacing the NWPR, it will be just the latest and most egregious example of this Administration’s regulatory overreach at a time when farmers and small business across Tennessee need more certainty,” Senator Hagerty said. “A new rule would inflict severe harm at a time when industries across our country are trying to recover from the pandemic-driven recession. I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing this legislation to uphold the 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Rule.”
“The Navigable Waters Protection Rule is clear, commonsense policy that is in effect in 50 states,” Senator Capito said. “Unfortunately, President Biden is working quickly to undo this. Replacing this rule with something like the 2015 illegal WOTUS Rule would completely reframe all water policy and devastate farmers, manufacturers, and small business owners across the country—including in West Virginia. We’ve already had enough uncertainty during this administration, and there’s no need to create more. This legislation is a critical step in protecting West Virginia from the threat of yet another overreaching EPA regulation.”
Read the full text of the bill here.
In 2015, the Obama administration finalized a rule that expanded the definition of the Waters of the United States, creating confusion and burdensome red tape for agriculture and coal industries across the country.
The Trump administration released a proposed rule to replace the Obama administration’s 2015 WOTUS rule with a new rule that provided much-needed predictability and certainty for farmers by establishing clear and reasonable definitions of what qualifies as a “water of the United States.” The new NWPR was finalized last year. Specifically, the NWPR established a definition that unambiguously identifies four simple categories of jurisdictional waters, provides clear exclusions for many water features—water features that traditionally have not been regulated at the federal level—and defines terms in the regulatory text that have never been defined before. The NWPR also protects the environment while respecting the cooperative federalism framework of the Clean Water Act. Specifically, it clearly delineates where federal regulations apply and gives states and local authorities more flexibility to determine how to best manage waters within their borders.
On day one of his administration, President Biden signed an executive order that would roll back the Trump administration’s actions of rescinding Obama’s WOTUS rule and finalizing the NWPR.