*For all press release inquiries, please reach out to Nick Sabin (Nick.Sabin@mail.house.gov)

(Courtesy of the Congressional Western Caucus) 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Paul A. Gosar D.D.S. (AZ-04), Executive Vice Chairman Scott Tipton (CO-03), Chief Rules Officer Dan Newhouse (WA-04), Chairman Emeritus Steve Pearce (NM-02), Chief Forestry Officer Bruce Westerman (AR-04), GOP Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) and Western Caucus members Rep. Tom Emmer (MN-06), Rep. Doug Lamborn (CO-05), Rep. Mike Johnson (LA-04), Rep. Raúl Labrador (ID-01), Rep. Marthy McSally (AZ-02), Rep. Ralph Abraham (LA-05), Rep. Roger Marshall (KS-01), Rep. Louie Gohmert (TX-01, Rep. Andy Biggs (AZ-05), Rep. Doug Collins (GA-09), Rep. Markwayne Mullin (OK-02), Rep. Kristi Noem (SD-At Large), Rep. Liz Cheney (WY-At Large) and Rep. Kevin Cramer (ND-At Large) released the following statements in response to the Trump Administration’s release of a proposed rule that will kill the Obama Administration’s “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) Rule by effectively re-codifying the Clean Water Act as it existed prior to 2015:

“Today’s announcement is excellent news for communities throughout the country,” said Chairman Gosar. “The Obama Administration threatened the very livelihoods of farmers, ranchers, small businesses and water users when unilaterally enacting the job-killing WOTUS Rule by executive fiat. The Trump Administration has already made great strides in rolling back this unconstitutional mandate and I am thrilled to see EPA Administrator Pruitt continue that good work with today’s proposed rule. Western Caucus members look forward to working closely with the administration to put a nail in the coffin of Gina McCarthy’s water grab. ”

“This announcement from Administrator Pruitt is welcome news. State law and priority-based systems have ensured clean, safe, and reliable water supplies for over a century in Colorado and the West. The WOTUS rule would have usurped long-held state water law and threatened access to private water rights. Western water users will now have much needed certainty while the EPA re-writes the definition of ‘Waters of the United States,’” said Congressman Tipton

Congressman Newhouse stated, “I applaud the action taken by the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to follow up on President Trump’s order to review the intrusive and overreaching Waters of the United States rule. I look forward to working with my colleagues and EPA Administrator Pruitt to replace the ill-conceived WOTUS rule with a commonsense proposal that protects clean water, as well as the water and property rights of farmers, ranchers, small businesses, and water users across the country.”

Congressman Pearce remarked, “This is great news for stronger job growth throughout New Mexico. Under the WOTUS Rule, Washington bureaucrats were given complete authority to regulate small streams along with natural and manmade ditches on lands owned by farmers, ranchers, and small businesses. This unlawful expansion of power proposed by the Obama Administration would drive up costs for landowners and cost thousands of jobs. I’m pleased to see the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers recommit to strengthening rural economies.”

Congressman Westerman said, “I am happy that the administration has listened to the concerns of those most impacted by this egregious, unconstitutional overreach by the Environmental Protection Agency. The decision to withdraw the previous administration’s WOTUS rule is a win for private property rights and will have a positive impact on farmers, ranchers, and other job creators.”

“WOTUS is one of the most burdensome EPA rules of the Obama Administration. You think about the impact it’s had on rural communities, on our cattlemen and farmers— it’s making it more and more difficult for hardworking Americans to be successful,” said Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers. “It’s something I’ve heard about frequently in Eastern Washington. Thank you to President Trump and his administration for taking action to ensure this rule no longer targets our rural communities.”

“I am pleased with today’s actions by the Trump Administration to repeal the harmful and overly burdensome WOTUS rule,” said Congressman Emmer. “While there is still work to be done to redefine WOTUS, this step gives our nation’s farmers, manufacturers and home builders greater certainty and gets the federal government out of their way. This is a welcome move that will benefit our economy today and for years to come.”

Congressman Lamborn said, “The previous administration used the vague language in the WOTUS Rule to harm local communities—including ranchers, farmers, small business owners. I am grateful that this new ruling will establish regulatory certainty and restore order to state and tribal water laws that should have jurisdiction over these bodies of water. I look forward to a revision of this rule that will empower local landowners instead of giving power solely to the federal government.”

Congressman Johnson remarked, “The so called ‘WOTUS Rule’ was a gross overreach by the Obama Administration and put mud puddles and backyard ditches under government control. Farmers and every day Americans all across the country have been subjected to new, burdensome regulations that kill jobs and further hinder the economy. Removing this rule will restore common sense to water regulation and return power back to the states and to the people.”

Congressman Labrador stated, “I applaud the Trump administration for continuing to roll back excessive regulations that are harming Idaho’s businesses and communities. I strongly opposed the previous administration’s ‘WOTUS’ rule and I worked with my colleagues on a legislative fix. Regulatory reform is critical to Idaho’s economy, and I appreciate the administration for continuing to show leadership on these types of issues.”  

“WOTUS is a sweeping regulation written by unelected bureaucrats that would give the EPA jurisdiction over any type of body of water on private land—lakes, ponds, creeks, and even desert washes,” remarked Congresswoman McSally. “I have heard from countless small businesses, farmers, and ranchers that this rule prevents them from doing their job, which is why I led dozens of my colleagues in Congress in writing to the Administration in February urging the President to reverse this rule for the sake of Southern Arizona and communities throughout the United States. I am pleased with the EPA’s decision to repeal the harmful WOTUS rule—and I know that Americans across the country are relieved by this news.”

“I represent one of the largest row crop districts in the nation, and nearly every farmer I talk to wants this rule repealed,” stated Congressman Abraham. “As an active farmer myself, I understand and share their frustrations with WOTUS. Today’s news is a welcomed relief for farmers around this country, and I thank President Trump and Administrator Pruitt for the actions they’ve taken so far to repeal this terrible rule.”

"I commend and thank the Trump Administration for their decisive and effective actions to repeal the misguided Waters of the United States rule,” said Congressman Marshall. “As Kansas farmers, ranchers, businesses and even municipalities know all too well, WOTUS dramatically expanded the reach of the federal government with minimal improvements in water quality. Today’s announcement serves as a tremendous relief to Kansans and provides the regulatory certainty we need to grow. This is yet another exciting step in fulfilling this Administration and Congress’ promise to return government to its proper role."

Congressman Gohmert said, “Washington bureaucrats in cubicles should not be deciding the fate of our waterways, nor should they be allowed to completely and arbitrarily control the economic fate of landowners even to the point of ending their ability to make a living. Unelected bureaucrats have, for years, been enviously dreaming of the day they could control American landowners' property by the backdoor methods of completely controlling everything involving water on or near the land. Repealing the Obama Administration’s WOTUS Rule is essential in getting the federal government out of everyday farming operations. It is neither right nor fair to subject producers and landowners to jurisdictional protocols and extraordinary levels of compliance charges. Today the EPA took a giant step forward in safeguarding the water rights of hard-working Americans and ending the federal power grab the Obama Administration engineered. It is a victory for those who love liberty and something called private property.”

Congressman Biggs stated, “I applaud Administrator Pruitt for his proposal to repeal the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rule, which was one of the most onerous rules from the Obama administration. WOTUS was opposed by over 200 organizations and local communities and would have had devastating effects on western states, including Arizona. This action provides another example that the Trump administration favors freedom and prosperity for our economy over regulatory outreach, and we join the administration in their efforts.”

“Northeast Georgia farmers, ranchers, and small businesses are natural conservationists who have been overburdened by the illogical Waters of the United States regulation,” said Congressman Doug Collins. “I applaud the Army Corps of Engineers and Environmental Protection Agency for their move to repeal the WOTUS rule in favor of statutes that actually serve our communities and steward their natural resources wisely.”

“Since the previous administration put the WOTUS Rule in place, I have been fighting tooth and nail to overturn it,” Congressman Mullin said. “The harmful effects it has on our farmers, ranchers, and small businesses are felt nationwide. Moreover, the WOTUS Rule allowed Washington bureaucrats to regulate the streams and creeks in the backyards of Oklahomans, when in reality these bureaucrats don’t know the first thing about a backyard like mine.” “The rule proposed today by the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers delivers the long overdue relief from this unlawful water grab that our farmers and ranchers desperately need. I’m grateful to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt for acting swiftly to repeal this misguided rule.”

“Under the Obama-era WOTUS rule, treating your lawn for mosquitos, putting up a fence in your backyard or spraying your crops could become federally regulated activities that carry substantial fines if violations occur – knowingly or unknowingly. The Trump administration is right to propose a repeal,” said Congresswoman Noem.

Congresswoman Cheney remarked, “The Clean Water Rule was a power grab by the Obama Administration that attempted to expand federal control and regulations well beyond the initial scope of Waters of the U.S. The rule threatened the loss of precious resources for hardworking ranchers and farmers in Wyoming, and if left unchecked, would have devastated our rural economy. I am pleased to see EPA Administrator Pruitt and the Army Corps of Engineers taking these steps to return power to the states and provide them with regulatory certainty. I also remain committed to working in Congress towards a full repeal of burdensome regulations imposed by the previous administration.”

“Today’s action marks the end of step one in a two-step process to undo the Obama Administration’s overreach to even further expand the federal government’s control of our land.  This regulatory relief is not only important to our farmers, ranchers, and energy producers, but any individual or business wanting to undertake a construction project.  Reestablishing the federal government’s role to only navigable waters under any reasonable person’s definition will help unleash economic development and put power back in the hands of the people closest to a project’s impact,” said Congressman Cramer.


(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.

(Courtesy of the Congressional Western Caucus)


On February 28, 2017, President Trump signed Executive Order 13778 requiring the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works to review the Obama Administration’s Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rule and rescind any aspect of WOTUS inconsistent with federal law in order to ensure economic growth, restore the Rule of Law and minimize regulatory uncertainty. The text of Executive Order 13778 can be found HEREA press release from the Congressional Western Caucus praising this action can be found HERE.

On March 25, 2014, the EPA and the Corps released a proposed rule that would assert Clean Water Act jurisdiction over nearly all areas with even the slightest of connections to water resources, including man-made conveyances.

WOTUS was slated to go into effect August 28, 2015. Fortunately, the Sixth Circuit issued a nationwide stay and temporarily blocked implementation of this rule.

The Obama Administration’s WOTUS Rule would cause significant harm to rural Americans throughout the country, including farmers, ranchers, small businesses, water users and other property owners. This flawed mandate directly contradicts prior U.S. Supreme Court decisions, which imposed limits on the extent of federal Clean Water Act authority. More than 200 organizations and local municipalities have publicly declared their opposition to the proposed WOTUS rule as a result.

The Heartland Institute has stated, “In reality, the language of the EPA rule is so vague this ‘clarification’ could grant Washington, D.C. jurisdiction over any body of water anywhere. It was to apply to any water or wetland deemed to have a ‘significant nexus’ to any navigable waterway, with the significant nexus, as described by a Wall Street Journal editorial, so widely interpreted as to include ‘any creek, pond or prairie pothole’ and ‘any land within a 100-year floodplain and 1,500 feet of the high water mark or, alternatively, within the 100-year floodplain and 4,000 feet of waters within their claimed jurisdiction.’ Essentially, the WOTUS rule would put EPA in charge of every piece of land occasionally containing any amount of concentrated water, practically down to the puddle level.’”

On May 12, 2015, the House passed H.R. 1732, the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act, by a vote of 261-155. This critical legislation required the EPA and Corps of Engineers to formally withdraw the agencies’ proposed rule that would redefine WOTUS and any subsequent final rule. Chairman Gosar and multiple members of the Western Caucus joined the Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Bill Shuster in introducing this bill. Click HERE to read more. 

In July 2015, Chairman Gosar submitted revelatory evidence into the Congressional Record from senior Army Corps of Engineer employees that expressed serious legal and scientific deficiencies with the Obama Administration’s WOTUS rule.