Inhofe on Amendment to block WOTUS

OkFarmPond1WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, released the following statement after the vote on Sen. John Hoeven’s (R-N.D.) amendment (#3811) to the Energy and Water Appropriations Bill that would block the “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule which expands federal regulatory power over private land under the Clean Water Act.


“It is disappointing to see a partisan roadblock stand in the way of commonsense legislation that would protect America’s private land owners, ranchers, and farmers. I applaud Senator Hoeven in introducing this amendment, and I’m proud to stand with a number of my colleagues who voted to block this egregious EPA regulation.

WaterQualityThe WOTUS rule is sadly no longer about clean water as many would believe, but is about federal land control.  This amendment would have prevented taxpayer dollars being used to carry out a rule that the courts have said is likely illegal.  Fortunately, the rule is also under a nationwide stay issued by the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. I look forward to continuing the fight against EPA overreach and seeing Congress or the courts scrap the WOTUS rule,” Sen. Inhofe added.

Introduced by Hoeven and cosponsored by Inhofe, this bipartisan amendment (#3811) would prevent funds being used by the Army Corps of Engineers to develop, adopt, implement, administer, or enforce any change to the regulations and guidance in effect on October 1, 2012, pertaining to the definition of waters under the jurisdiction of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act including the provisions of the rules dated November 13, 1986, and August 25, 1993, relating to such jurisdiction, and the guidance documents dated January 15, 2003, and December 2, 2008, relating to such jurisdiction.

To view full text of the amendment, click here.

Background:
The EPW Committee has held more hearings on the WOTUS rule than any other issue to date. The following are actions taken by Inhofe or the committee regarding WOTUS:

OkFarmPond2On Nov. 4, the Senate voted to pass S.J.Res.22, the WOTUS Rule Resolution of Disapproval as introduced by Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa). It passed with the vote of 53 Senators, and resulted in officially 69 Senators being on the record in the 114th Congress in opposition to the current rule.

• On Oct. 9, Inhofe released a statement on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issuance of a nationwide stay of the final rule entitled:  Clean Water Rule; Definition of Waters of the United States, 80 Fed. Reg. 37,054, promulgated on Jun. 29, in consolidated cases brought by eighteen states, including Oklahoma.  The District Court of North Dakota had previously stayed the rule in thirteen states.

• On Sept. 30, the EPW Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, and Water held a hearing entitled, Oversight of the Army Corps of Engineers’ Participation in the Development of the New Regulatory Definition of WOTUS, with Jo-Ellen Darcy, assistant secretary of the Army, as a witness.

• On Aug. 20, Inhofe sent a letter to Jo-Ellen Darcy, assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works, and Ken Kopocis, deputy assistant administrator of the EPA’s Office of Water, asking them to address the application of the new WOTUS definition to city sewer systems, using Washington, D.C. as an example. Under the new WOTUS rule, agencies inter to use historical maps and historic aerial photographs to identify the former locations of water features like streams. Many city sewer systems are located in former streams, as is evident from maps of Washington, D.C.

ArkansRiverTulsaMoon• On July 14, Inhofe led Republican members of the committee in a letter to EPA Adm. Gina McCarthy requesting the legal justification for the WOTUS rule. This was a follow-up request to Sen. Dan Sullivan’s (R-Alaska) initial request on March 4, 2015.

• On June 10, the bipartisan Federal Water Quality Protection Act (S.1140) was passed out of the committee. The legislation was first introduced by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), and Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) on April 30.

• On May 22, Inhofe joined Sens. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) in sending a letter to EPA Adm. Gina McCarthy expressing concerns and requesting answers regarding a recent New York Times article that reported the EPA may have conducted an unprecedented, and possibly illegal lobbying and marketing effort on behalf of the controversial WOTUS rulemaking in order to inflate the number of positive public comments.

• On May 19, the EPW Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife held a legislative hearing on S.1140, the Federal Water Quality Protection Act.

• On April 30, Inhofe joined Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) in introducing the Federal Water Quality Protection Act. The bipartisan legislation will ensure the protection of traditional navigable waters of the United States. It also protects farmers, ranchers and private landowners by directing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to issue a revised WOTUS rule that does not include things such as isolated ponds, ditches, agriculture water, storm water, groundwater, floodwater, municipal water supply systems, wastewater management systems, and streams without enough flow to carry pollutants to navigable waters.

ArkansasRiverJenksOn April 6 and 8, Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), chairman of the EPW Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife held two field hearings – one in Anchorage, Alaska and the other in Fairbanks, Alaska – to examine local impacts of EPA’s proposed WOTUS rule on state and local governments and stakeholders.

• On March 14, the EPW Committee held a field hearing chaired by Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) in Lincoln, Nebraska. The hearing focused on the impact of the proposed WOTUS rule, which would expand federal regulation of water in Nebraska.

• On Feb. 4, the EPW Committee held a bicameral hearing with the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure that examined the impacts on state and local governments of a proposed rule to expand federal regulation of waters under the Clean Water Act. Witnesses in attendance included EPA Adm. Gina McCarthy and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Work Jo-Ellen Darcy as well as local government leaders. Following the hearing Inhofe and House T&I Committee Chairman Bill Shuster called for the EPA to withdraw the proposed WOTUS rule.