Thompson: Rescind ‘Waters of the U.S.’ Rule

Sep 27, 2017

Thompson, PA Representatives submit letter to the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on flawed rule

WASHINGTON U.S. Representative Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson today called on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to rescind the flawed “Waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) rule.

Both the EPA and the Army Corps announced on June 27 2017 that they planned to formally rescind the pending WOTUS rule.  As a part of that process, the agencies reopened public comment on the rule.

Joining Rep. Thompson in the call to remove WOTUS were Pennsylvania U.S. Representatives: Mike Kelly, Bill Shuster, Lou Barletta, Lloyd Smucker, Charlie Dent, Tom Marino, and Scott Perry.

“While clean water is vital for all Americans, the ‘Waters of the U.S.’ rule overreaches by expanding EPA’s authority far beyond its congressional mandate,” Rep. Thomson said. “This regulation would have created significant confusion for farmers and landowners, while requiring excessive new permitting and costs for compliance under the Clean Water Act.  I agree that the Clean Water Act needs to be clarified, but this rule does not provide that certainty. I strongly support the decision by EPA and the Army Corps to fully withdraw this fundamentally flawed regulation.”

###

Full text of the letter:

September 27, 2017

The Honorable Scott Pruitt 
Administrator
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20460 

The Honorable Douglas W. Lamont
Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army
Project Planning and Review
108 Army Pentagon
Washington, D.C. 20310

Docket ID: EPA-HQ-OW-2017-0203; FRL-9966-81-OW

Dear Administrator Pruitt and Deputy Assistant Secretary Lamont:

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ 2015 “waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) rule. We write to urge the Agencies to work quickly to rescind this rule and clearly articulate the extent of federal Clean Water Act Authority, while observing the jurisdictional limits intended by Congress.

This regulation expands federal authority beyond the limits approved by Congress and affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court. If the WOTUS rule is implemented, it will create an unworkable regulatory burden for farmers and others who depend on their ability to work the land.  This would result in new and unnecessary permits, which would increase costs for landowners and others. In particular, the rule would create confusion and risk by providing the agencies with almost unlimited authority to regulate any low spots where rainwater collects, including farm ditches, ephemeral drainages, agricultural ponds and other features found on farms across the nation.

This increase in jurisdiction is troubling since farmers and landowners lack even the basic tools to identify wetlands or other “waters” automatically regulated under the rule. Terms such as “tributary” and “adjacent” are broad enough to give regulators and activist plaintiffs the ability to assert that these areas are subject to federal jurisdiction, which would give agencies new authority to regulate land use well beyond the historical scope of the law. This is particularly concerning for Pennsylvania since the Commonwealth is likely to be significantly impacted by the rule – with nearly all of Pennsylvania being considered “waters of the U.S.” based upon the rule’s definition of “significant nexus.”

We all support the proposal to rescind the 2015 WOTUS rule. Moreover, we urge the agencies to work quickly to reconsider the definition of “waters of the U.S.” and clearly articulate the extent of federal Clean Water Act authority, while observing the jurisdictional limits consistent with Congressional intent.

We thank you for the opportunity to offer additional comments. We look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson

Member of Congress