The House of Representatives voted last week to block the controversial Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. House lawmakers approved on a 253-168 vote a joint resolution sponsored by Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, that overrules the Clean Water Act (CWA) regulation. The resolution passed the Senate in November by a vote of 53-44. The WOTUS regulation was proposed in April 2014 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to clarify the agencies’ authority under the CWA over various waters. That jurisdiction – based on several U.S. Supreme Court decisions – included “navigable” waters and waters with a significant hydrologic connection to navigable waters. The rule broadened that to include, among other water bodies, upstream waters and intermittent and ephemeral streams such as the kind farmers use for drainage and irrigation. It also encompassed lands adjacent to such waters. A federal appeals court temporarily halted implementation of the rule, which took effect Aug. 28, 2015. NPPC and other agricultural organizations in a lawsuit against the WOTUS rule filed in July alleged, among other things, that EPA engaged in an advocacy campaign during the comment period, a violation of the federal Administrative Procedures Act. A U.S. Government Accountability Office investigation determined that the EPA illegally spent taxpayer dollars on “propaganda” and “grassroots lobbying efforts” in an effort to build support for the rule. President Obama is expected to veto the resolution.
House Votes to Block WOTUS Rule