Washington, D.C. – Alaska Congressman Don Young today issued the following statement in response to the Trump administration’s proposed rule to effectively roll back the Obama-era Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule and re-codify the Clean Water Act (CWA) as it existed prior to 2015:
“The WOTUS rule represented so much of what was wrong with the Obama administration – a sweeping expansion of federal jurisdiction, undermining the integrity of longstanding federal-state partnerships, ignoring the opposition of local stakeholders and a majority of states – all through the unilateral action of a federal agency. It’s absolutely the wrong way to govern.
“I was pleased to see the Trump administration take action – efforts that closely reflect the work of Congress – to review and ultimately overturn this shortsighted rule. If allowed to stand, there’s no question in my mind this rule would have created insurmountable hurdles for even the most basic activity and development in Alaska – resulting in endless litigation, higher costs, and prolonged delays across every corner of our already sensitive economy.
“I am hopeful this action represents the end for the WOTUS rule and an EPA that no longer exceeds its authority, respects existing legal precedent established by the Supreme Court and the rights of states under the CWA.”
Background (Courtesy of the EPA):
Today, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Army, and the Army Corps of Engineers (the agencies) released a proposed rule to rescind the Clean Water Rule and re-codify the regulatory text that existed prior to 2015 defining "waters of the United States" or WOTUS. For the pre-publication Federal Register Notice and additional information click here.
This action would, when finalized, provide certainty in the interim, pending a second rulemaking in which the agencies will engage in a substantive re-evaluation of the definition of "waters of the United States." The proposed rule would be implemented in accordance with Supreme Court decisions, agency guidance, and longstanding practice.
This proposed rule follows the February 28, 2017, Presidential Executive Order on "Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the 'Waters of the United States' Rule." The February Order states that it is in the national interest to ensure that the Nation's navigable waters are kept free from pollution, while at the same time promoting economic growth, minimizing regulatory uncertainty, and showing due regard for the roles of Congress and the States under the Constitution. To meet these objectives, the agencies intend to follow an expeditious, two-step process that will provide certainty across the country.
The proposed rule would recodify the identical regulatory text that was in place prior to the 2015 Clean Water Rule and that is currently in place as a result of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit's stay of the 2015 rule. Therefore, this action, when final, will not change current practice with respect to how the definition applies.
The agencies have also begun deliberations and outreach on the second step rulemaking involving a re-evaluation and revision of the definition of "waters of the United States" in accordance with the President Trump’s Executive Order.