Blunt Helps Introduce Bill to Uphold Navigable Waters Protection Rule

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.)
announced that he has joined U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), Ranking
Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and 31 of their
Senate colleagues in introducing legislation to protect Missouri’s farmers,
small businesses, and property owners by codifying the 2020 Navigable Waters
Protection Rule (NWPR).

Under the Biden administration, the Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are promising to replace the NWPR
with a new rule that goes even further than the Obama-era Waters of the United
States (WOTUS) Rule. 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 our economy.

“The Obama administration’s WOTUS rule would have put more
than 99% of Missouri land under the jurisdiction of the EPA and U.S. Army Corps
of Engineers,” said Blunt. “I fought that rule because it would have
dramatically driven up costs on Missouri’s farmers, small business owners, and
property owners. Now, the Biden administration is once again moving toward the
same kind of power grab we saw under WOTUS – but potentially even worse. The
current Navigable Waters Protection Rule, which replaced the WOTUS rule, takes
a much smarter approach to safeguarding our clean water without imposing
excessive, unnecessary burdens on Missourians. I urge my colleagues to support
this bill to stop the Biden administration’s rewrite of the NWPR.”

“The Navigable Waters Protection Rule is clear, commonsense
policy that is in effect in 50 states,” said Capito. “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.”

In addition to Blunt and Capito, the legislation is
cosponsored by U.S. Senators John Boozman (Ark.), Tom Cotton (Ark.), Josh
Hawley (Mo.), Kevin Cramer (N.D.), Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.), Jim Inhofe (Okla.),
Roger Wicker (Miss.), Richard Shelby (Ala.), Dan Sullivan (Alaska), Joni Ernst
(Iowa), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), John Barrasso (Wyo.), Bill Hagerty (Tenn.), Jim
Risch (Idaho), Roger Marshall (Kan.), Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Richard Burr
(N.C.), Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), Steve Daines (Mont.), Tim Scott (S.C.), James
Lankford (Okla.), Thom Tillis (N.C.), Jerry Moran (Kansas), Tommy Tuberville
(Ala.), Deb Fischer (Neb.), Mike Rounds (S.D.), Mike Crapo (Idaho), Ted Cruz
(Texas), Ben Sasse (Neb.), John Hoeven (N.D.), and Cindy Hyde-Smith (Miss.).

Click here
to read the bill text.


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 farmers and ranchers, developers, and property
owners. Blunt called on the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to abandon the
rule and introduced legislation
to halt it.

In January 2017, Blunt praised the Trump administration’s
move to withdraw
the Obama administration’s WOTUS rule and replace it with a more
commonsense approach. In January 2020, Blunt commended
the Trump administration’s revised rule, known as the Navigable Waters
Protection Rule, that provided much-needed predictability and certainty for
farmers by establishing a clear and reasonable definition of what qualifies as
a “Water of the United States.” 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 by clearly delineating where federal regulations apply
and giving 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
rolling back the Trump administration’s action to rescind Obama’s
WOTUS rule and finalize the NWPR. In January, Blunt joined 25 of his Senate
colleagues to introduce a resolution that expresses the need for the U.S. Senate to uphold the NWPR.

Read more about Blunt’s extensive efforts to stop the WOTUS
rule here.


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