Western Caucus Members Demand Clarity from EPA and the Army Corps on the Regulatory Definition of WOTUS

Washington, November 14, 2023 | Eli Mansour (202 510-8612)

Chairman Dan Newhouse (WA-04) led 71 Members of the Western Caucus in sending a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Michael Connor regarding the lack of clarity on the agencies’ regulatory definition of waters of the United States (WOTUS) following the Supreme Court’s decision in Sackett v. EPA.
“Our nation’s farmers, ranchers and rural communities deserve certainty and safeguards from federal government regulations dictating how they use their land,” said Chairman Newhouse. “By going direct-to-final rulemaking and skipping a public comment period, the Biden Administration is attempting to bring their illegal WOTUS rule in-line with the Sackett decision by using ambiguous terms in a calculated manner to expand their regulatory authority. Rural America deserves better, and that’s why the Western Caucus is demanding clarity on how the Administration is planning to enforce WOTUS post-Sackett.”
“When given the opportunity to deliver the clarity long sought by the regulated community, the federal government instead chose to push forward with a revised WOTUS rule that is mired with vague terms and ambiguous language,” said Courtney Briggs, Waters Advocacy Coalition chair. “This flawed action by the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers has left our nation’s core economic engines in continued confusion and uncertainty. America’s farmers, builders, manufacturers, miners and small businesses need a clear and consistent WOTUS rule that frees them to carry out their important jobs with confidence. We applaud Chairman Newhouse and the Congressional Western Caucus for demanding the federal government provide answers to the gaping questions surrounding the revised rule and urge the agencies to respond quickly to deliver much-needed certainty to the nation’s job creators.”
Signers of the letter are Reps. Dan Newhouse (WA-04), GT Thompson (PA-15), Elise Stefanik (NY-21), Jason Smith (MO-08), Jake LaTurner (KS-02), Beth Van Duyne (TX-24), Tom McClintock (CA-05), Cliff Bentz (OR-02), Russ Fulcher (ID-01), Dan Meuser (PA-09), Kat Cammack (FL-03), Ralph Norman (SC-05), Garret Graves (LA-06), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-01), Pete Stauber (MN-08), Mike Bost (IL-12), Dusty Johnson (SD-AL), Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-03), Mike Flood (NE-01), Rick Crawford (AR-01), Ronny Jackson (TX-13), David Valadao (CA-22), John Duarte (CA-13), August Pfluger (TX-11), Ken Calvert (CA-41), Harriet Hageman (WY-AL), Byron Donalds (FL-19), Barry Moore (AL-02), Eli Crane (AZ-02), Jerry Carl (AL-01), Jay Obernolte (CA-23), James Moylan (Guam-AL), Buddy Carter (GA-01), Russell Fry (SC-07), Adrian Smith (NE-03), Alex Mooney (WV-02), Tracey Mann (KS-01), Aumua Amata Radewagen (American Samoa-AL), Brad Finstad (MN-01), Mark Alford (MO-04), Jim Baird (IN-04), Mike Carey (OH-15), Matt Rosendale (MT-02), Don Bacon (NE-02), Paul Gosar (AZ-09), Kelly Armstrong (ND-AL), Doug LaMalfa (CA-01), Doug Lamborn (CO-05), Tom Tiffany (WI-07), Mark Amodei (NV-02), Stephanie Bice (OK-05), Andy Biggs (AZ-05), Frank Lucas (OK-03), Austin Scott (GA-08), Diana Harshbarger (TN-01), Scott Fitzgerald (WI-05), Monica De La Cruz (TX-15), Randy Feenstra (IA-04), Gary Palmer (AL-06), Juan Ciscomani (AZ-06), Bruce Westerman (AR-04), Greg Murphy (NC-03), John “Judge” Carter (TX-31), Roger Williams (TX-25), Burgess Owens (UT-04), Larry Bucshon (IN-08), Ryan Zinke (MT-01), Lori Chavez-DeRemer (OR-05), Darrell Issa (CA-48), Michelle Fischbach (MN-07), and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05).
Read the full letter here.

On May 25, 2023, the United States Supreme Court ruled against the Biden Administration’s WOTUS rule in Sackett v. EPA, limiting the scope of definition of “waters of the United States.” This forced the Biden Administration to amend their final rule from December 2022 to comply with the decision.
The Congressional Western Caucus has long been active in fighting against the burdensome WOTUS ruling, their actions include:

  • On January 26, 2023 Chairman Newhouse sent a letter, along with 195 House Republicans—including the entire Western Caucus, to the Biden Administration urging them to rescind their premature and reckless rule. 
  • On December 30, 2022, Chairman Newhouse and 22 Members of the Congressional Western Caucus spoke out against the Biden Administration releasing a final WOTUS rule—on the last business day of the year—before the Supreme Court has decided Sackett v. EPA.
  • In April 2022, Chairman Newhouse, Rep. Miller-Meeks, and Rep. Rodney Davis (IL-13) submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court for Sackett v. EPA outlining the importance of environmental federalism and how a poorly-defined Clean Water Act hinders environmental protections.
  • In November of 2021, Western Caucus Members from across the country issued statements in response to the Administration’s proposed rule. Click here to read more.

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