U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), senior member of the Environmental and Public Works Committee, praised the final repeal of the Obama-era Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule—marking the completion of the first significant regulatory milestone in replacing the rule.
Finalizing this rule is the first step in ending the regulatory patchwork that has created uncertainty across the United States. Next, EPA will move forward with finalizing the new-WOTUS rule, that would give states and tribes more flexibility to determine how best to manage waters within their borders, in accordance with the Clean Water Act.
This action continues the Administration’s deregulatory agenda. Under President Trump, EPA has finalized 46 deregulatory actions, saving Americans more than $3.7 billion dollars in regulatory costs. The EPA has an additional 45 actions in development projected to save billions more.
“Promises made, promises kept. Starting in 2015, as the Chairman of the EPW Committee, I led the fight against the flawed, Obama-era WOTUS rule—holding hearings and pushing legislation to highlight the negative impacts of the rule. I worked hand-in-hand with President Trump and EPA Administrator Wheeler to repeal the burdensome regulation because of what it has done to our farmers, ranchers and local landowners in Oklahoma – this has been their most significant regulatory burden.
“States across the nation, particularly rural states like Oklahoma, have been severely harmed by the regulatory overreach of the Obama-era WOTUS rule, which has taken state and local land and unlawfully put it into the control of the federal government. Today’s action to finally end the rule continues to prove how the Trump Administration and the EPA understand the needs of farmers and rural Americans. I look forward to the new rule, which clearly defines what constitutes WOTUS, ensures our waterways are protected and returns the federal government to its proper role.”
- On June 14, 2019, Inhofe questioned witnesses at an EPW hearing entitled “A Review of Waters of the U.S. Regulations: Their Impact on States and the American People.”
- On December 11, 2018, Inhofe applauded the EPA release of the new WOTUS rule.
- On June 27, 2017, Inhofe praised the EPA’s proposed WOTUS repeal.
- On Feb. 28, 2017, Inhofe praised President Trump’s executive order that started to dismantle to the WOTUS rule.
- In September 2016, Inhofe released a report entitled From Preventing Pollution of Navigable and Interstate Waters to Regulating Farm Fields, Puddles and Dry Land: A Senate Report on the Expansion of Jurisdiction Claimed by the Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Water Act, which detailed the expansion of the EPA and Army Corps’ jurisdiction under the Obama administration.
- In January 2016, Inhofe joined Sen. Sasse (R-Neb.) in formally requesting that the Department of Justice investigate whether officials at the EPA knowingly violated federal law in its WOTUS propaganda campaign. In December 2015, the Government Accountability Office determined that the EPA violated the law when it used taxpayer dollars for covert propaganda and unauthorized publicity as well as for indirect or grassroots lobbying on WOTUS.
- That same month, Inhofe sent a letter to the EPA requesting feedback on state implementation of EPA regulatory programs, including WOTUS. Inhofe released the EPA’s responses during the March 2016 EPW hearing entitled Cooperative Federalism: State Perspectives on EPA Regulatory Actions and the Role of States as Co-Regulators.
- Congress passed a Congressional Review Act (CRA) Resolution of Disapproval against the WOTUS rule in January 2016. President Obama later vetoed this legislation and the Congress failed to override his veto.
- On Nov. 3, 2015, Senate Democrats blocked consideration of Inhofe’s S. 1140 by a vote of 57–41. The following day the Senate passed S.J. 22 Resolution of Disapproval introduced by Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) by a vote of 54–44. An additional 15 Senators had publically expressed concerns with WOTUS. Sen. Inhofe criticized the 11 Democrats that voted against the measure, despite signing onto a letter to the EPA asking for clarification of the final WOTUS rule
- In July 2015, Inhofe sent a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers requesting confirmation of information presented to the EPW committee in an internal Army Corps of Engineers document that expressed grave concerns with the rule.
- Despite a number of outstanding concerns, the final WOTUS rule went into effect in June 2015. However, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay on the rule in October 2015, blocking the final rule from going into effect after being challenged by 32 states.
- The following month Inhofe introduced bipartisan legislation, S. 1140, The Federal Water Quality Protection Act, which would revise the WOTUS rule to no longer include a number of small bodies of water. President Obama threatened to veto this legislation.
- In March 2015, Inhofe joined Sen. Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and 15 other Senators in sponsoring Barrasso’s Senate Budget Resolution amendment limiting the expansion of the WOTUS definition. This amendment passed the Senate by a vote of 59–40.
- After becoming chairman of the EPW committee at the start of 2015, Inhofe joined U.S. Representative Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), chairman of the of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in calling for the withdrawal of the WOTUS rule following a bicameral hearing on the rule.
- In March 2014 the Obama administration, EPA and Army Corps of Engineers announced a proposal to expand the definition of the waters of the United States in the Clean Water Act from navigable waters to virtually any body of water and wetland. In following months, Inhofe sent a number of letters to the President and EPA urging them to reconsider the rule.