U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) today released the following statement after the Senate passed a formal challenge to the Biden Administration’s Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule through a Congressional Review Act (CRA) joint resolution of disapproval. In February, Romney joined all 48 of his Republican colleagues, led by Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, in introducing the resolution.
“States and local communities—not the federal government—know best how to manage their lands and waters, and we should keep it that way,” Senator Romney said. “The Biden Administration’s WOTUS rule will impose harmful and burdensome regulations on Utah’s farmers, ranchers, and landowners. I’m proud that my colleagues came together to oppose this blatant federal power grab of our nation’s waters.”
“By voting to overturn President Biden’s waters rule, we are sending a clear, bipartisan message that Congress, even a divided one, will defend working Americans in the face of executive overreach,” Ranking Member Capito said. “I’m proud to lead my colleagues in standing up for farmers and ranchers, landowners and builders, and energy and infrastructure workers across the United States. I urge President Biden not to overrule the will of a bipartisan majority in Congress, and instead draft a new rule that doesn’t unfairly penalize millions of Americans and jeopardize future growth in our country.”
“We all need less red tape from the federal government, especially our farmers, ranchers and rural property owners,” Governor Cox said. “Rejecting the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule is absolutely the right move and we appreciate Senator Romney’s support of this resolution.”
“Farmers and ranchers care about our nation’s waterways and have a record of using tools to protect the environment their rural communities. They deserve rules that are clear and reliable, not changing with every administration. A farmer shouldn’t have to hire a team of attorneys and consultants to identify ‘navigable waters’ on their land. We are extremely disappointed the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers have proposed to subject farmers to this complicated and overreaching regulation, and hope this Congressional action can put an end to the back and forth of water rules,” said Ron Gibson, President of the Utah Farm Bureau Federation.
“Utah’s precipitation and landscape are unique. Mountain areas collect snow in the winter feeding our waterways through skillfully regulated runoff management practices, juxtaposed with impervious red rock panoramas whose controlled runoff comes infrequent but at times violent. A broad-brush rule from federal agencies arbitrarily regulating man-made ditches and water features tears at the very fabric of our culture. Generations ago the first settlers of Utah recognized the value of water and the importance of controlling and regulating flows and use. The Biden WOTUS rule seeks to undo over a century of careful planning and precise controls to be replaced with burdensome expensive and ineffective rules designed to shift power from local experts to Washington DC bureaucrats. The Home Builders Association of Utah applauds all efforts to roll back the destructive federal overreach of WOTUS,” said Ross Ford, Executive Officer of the Home Builders Association of Utah.
BACKGROUND ON WOTUS, NWPR:
In 2015, the Obama Administration finalized a rule that expanded the definition of WOTUS, creating confusion and burdensome red tape, especially for Utah’s agriculture, construction, and coal industries.
The Trump Administration released a proposed rule to replace the 2015 WOTUS rule with a new one that provided much-needed predictability and certainty for farmers by establishing clear and reasonable definitions of what qualifies as a “water of the United States.” The NWPR was finalized in 2020.
On day one of his Administration, President Biden signed an executive order to begin the process of rolling back the Trump Administration’s NWPR.
The senators’ introduced their resolution after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced a new rule in December 2022 repealing the Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR), and changing the definition of Waters of the United States in a way that will expand federal regulatory authority.
On March 9, the House passed a resolution to overturn the Biden WOTUS rule by a vote of 227 to 198.