Sens. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Mike Braun (R-IN) proposed legislation Thursday that would roll back former President Barack Obama’s Waters of the United States (WOTUS) regulation. WOTUS was a hallmark regulation of Obama’s climate change agenda.
Sens. Braun and Ernst have introduced the Define WOTUS Act to reassert congressional authority and rein in Obama’s WOTUS regulation.
The Obama Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) EPA and the United States Army Corps of Engineers created the WOTUS regulation that loosely defined federally regulated “navigable waters,” which would allow the EPA and other authorities to greatly regulate many waterways across the country and harm American agriculture and manufacturing. Many experts and conservatives charge that the Obama WOTUS rule would allow federal government to regulate every creek and pond in America. WOTUS gave the federal government authority to regulate water use on 247 million acres of federal farmland.
The WOTUS rule served as part of Obama’s climate agenda, which included the Clean Power Plan, and the Paris climate treaty.
Sen. Braun said in a press release Thursday that Congress needs to take action to roll back the WOTUS rule and help Hoosier farmers impacted by “job-killing regulations” such as WOTUS.
The Hoosier Republican said:
“President Trump and his Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are working hard to fix this atrocious Obama-era rule. But as the Administration has repeatedly noted, it’s Congress job to write laws. the Define WOTUS Act will solidify and amplify the Administration’s work on WOTUS. I am proud to join with President Trump who is doing a tremendous job deregulating these job-killing regulations that hurt Hoosier farmers and those who reside in the Heartland of America.
Many farmers have suffered under the WOTUS rule. In 2017, one California farmer was fined $2.8 million by federal and state regulators for plowing his own field.
Although President Donald Trump’s EPA has moved to repeal the WOTUS rule, it remains possible that a future Democrat administration could move to reenact the law.
Sens. Ernst and Braun’s legislation would set a far less onerous definition of federally regulated “navigable waters,” preventing future Democrats from expanding the definition and thereby overregulating American farmlands.
Sen. Ernst said the Obama WOTUS rule threatened small businesses across Iowa and that the bill will provide certainty for farmers and manufacturers across the country. The Iowa conservative said:
The Obama-era WOTUS rule threatened Iowa’s farmers, manufacturers, and small businesses by giving the federal government authority to regulate water on 97 percent of land in our state. President Trump and his administration have taken tremendous steps to roll back this far-reaching regulation and provide for more certainty with a new, clearer definition of WOTUS.
Although some Americans may remain concerned that the senators’ legislation may lead to increased pollution, the bill would allow states to better regulate local waterways. The Clean Water Act only determines what federal bureaucrats can regulate; whereas, Congress has long meant for states to have broader authority over water regulation, which explains why Congress did not include federal control of groundwater in the Clean Water Act.
The legislation would allow states to better manage waterways in a manner that better helps their state. For instance, snowpack melt may not impact Indiana as much as Utah or Colorado, and wetlands are not common in the Dakotas but are common in Indiana.
Sen. Ernst said that the legislation would help Iowans by creating a fairer definition of the Obama WOTUS rule.
The Iowa senator said “it’s the job of Congress to make a new, reasonable definition permanent, and that’s what this bill does—it ensures more predictability and workability for Iowans for years to come.”
The bill can be read below:
Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.