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Wicker, Hyde-Smith take up fight to...

Wicker, Hyde-Smith take up fight to stop Biden-Obama WOTUS rule

By: Anne Summerhays - February 14, 2022

Senate Republicans call for halt to EPA/USACE rulemaking until Supreme Court decision.

Last week, U.S. Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), as part of a united Senate Republican Conference, wrote to the heads of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

All 50 Republican Senators urged the two federal agencies to suspend a pending rulemaking the jurisdictional definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) until the U.S. Supreme Court completes consideration of Sackett v. EPA that could have major implications on the scope and enforcement of the Clean Water Act (CWA).

“The federal government should not promulgate rules for the sake of political expediency, but rather provide regulatory certainty for stakeholders within the bounds of an agency’s respective statutory authority,” the Senators wrote. “Proceeding with the rulemaking at this time, despite the pending litigation and potentially influential ruling, will only deepen uncertainty within the regulated community.”

“Given the severe financial penalties stakeholders could face for conducting standard agricultural or other land development practices under the proposed rule, family farmers and ranchers are understandably alarmed by the administration’s attempted land grab.  These producers have an especially vested interest in responsible stewardship of their water and land, and they depend on precise, consistent, and durable regulations that can guide such activity.  Unfortunately, the proposed WOTUS rule falls short by each measure,” the Senators said.

“As you consider our request to suspend the WOTUS rulemaking process, we urge you to listen to these stakeholders and hear firsthand how the proposed revision to the definition of WOTUS will cast a cloud of uncertainty over landowners across the country and snarl American economic sectors in red tape,” the letter concluded.

Wicker and Hyde-Smith are original cosponsors of S.2567, the Navigable Waters Protection Act. On the first day of his administration, President Biden signed an executive order that would undo the Trump administration’s actions of rescinding Obama’s WOTUS rule which finalized the NWPR.

Back in January, the Mississippi Senators and their Senate colleagues introduced a resolution that communicates the need for the U.S. Senate to uphold the Navigable Waters Protection Rules (NWPR).

“The Trump Administration’s Navigable Waters Protection rule recognizes state control over local waters while still maintaining important protections for our environment,” Senator Roger Wicker said in August. “Codifying this rule would ensure federal regulations are not overly burdensome for Mississippi’s farmers and small business owners. I am glad to stand with my colleagues in this effort.”

“There is no good reason for the Biden administration to replace the 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Rule other than to force centralized federal authority and regulatory power over all waters—groundwater, ditches, storm waters, and more. Our farmers, businesses, and property owners thrive best on responsible oversight and certainty, which the current rule provides and which is why it should be codified,” Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith said previously.

Click here to read the full letter from the 50 Republican Senators to the heads of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

About the Author(s)
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Anne Summerhays

Anne Summerhays is a recent graduate of Millsaps College where she majored in Political Science, with minors in Sociology and American Studies. In 2021, she joined Y’all Politics as a Capitol Correspondent. Prior to making that move, she interned for a congressional office in Washington, D.C. and a multi-state government relations and public affairs firm in Jackson, Mississippi. While at Millsaps, Summerhays received a Legislative Fellowship with the Women’s Foundation of Mississippi where she worked with an active member of the Mississippi Legislature for the length of session. She has quickly established trust in the Capitol as a fair, honest, and hardworking young reporter. Her background in political science helps her cut through the noise to find and explain the truth. Email Anne: