The House of Representatives will vote tomorrow to overturn the Biden Administration’s 2023 “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule. Americans for Tax Reform supports this resolution (H.J. Res. 27) and encourages all members of Congress to vote “YES.”
In January 2023, the Biden Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers published their final rule on the “Revised Definition of ‘Waters of the United States,’” which redefines which waters are covered under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The new rule is set to take effect on March 20th, replacing the Trump-era “Navigable Waters Protection Rule.“
The 2023 WOTUS rule vastly expands the power of the federal government to regulate lands and waters not previously covered under the CWA. Under the rule, a variety of wetlands and small trickles of water could be defined as equivalent to “navigable waters” and subjected to strict, costly environmental regulations.
In a prominent case which occurred under the jurisdiction of a similarly strict Obama-era WOTUS rule, an elderly Navy veteran was sentenced to 18 months in prison and a $130,000 fine when he dug ponds in the path of a water trickle on his own land. The trickle, which had the combined force of two garden hoses, was declared to be a “navigable water” under the EPA’s standard, subjecting the land owner to environmental regulations which landed him in prison.
Biden’s new rule is also harmfully vague, having rescinded the greater clarity achieved by the Trump-era rule. The “significant nexus” test of the rule––which regulates waters or wetlands that may “significantly affect the chemical, physical, or biological integrity of traditional navigable waters”––has been derided by some legal experts as a “consultant’s dream” due to its murky criteria. The multiplicity of unclear “factors” and “functions” involved in determining which projects may fall under the new WOTUS definition adds a severe regulatory compliance burden, particularly for smaller firms and independent farmers.
The Obama-era rule and its new successor in the Biden administration have proven to have little to do with clean water and much more to do with increasing the stranglehold of federal regulators over American farmers and businesses.
H.J. Res. 27, the congressional resolution of disapproval for the WOTUS rule, was introduced last month by Congressmen Sam Graves (R-Mo.) and David Rouzer (R-N.C.) and currently has 170 Republican cosponsors in the House. The Congressional Review Act grants Congress the authority to overturn final rules issued by federal agencies with a simple majority vote, though President Biden has vowed to veto the resolution if passed by Congress.
Americans for Tax Reform supports the effort by House Republicans to overturn Biden’s damaging 2023 WOTUS rule.