What They Are Saying: The West Stands with Newhouse in Calling Out the Biden Administration’s Disastrous WOTUS Rule

Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA), Chairman of the Congressional Western Caucus, recently blasted the Biden administration for its secretive release of a final “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule while the Supreme Court has yet to rule on a pending court case. Today, industry leaders and stakeholders in Central Washington issued the following statements about the devastating impacts this rule will have on rural communities:

“While we’re disappointed in the governmental overreach and ambiguities in the new rule, we patiently anticipate a Supreme Court decision this year that will hopefully bring clarity and finality to this situation. Farmers and ranchers deserve more than to be political pawns of each new presidential administration.” — Rosella Mosby, State President, Washington Farm Bureau

“The back-and-forth on WOTUS is confusing.  Columbia Basin Project infrastructure in Washington State is subject to compliance with the final rule even though application to the Project is illogical.  Major work on features like wasteways will be slowed unnecessarily with additional permitting requirements.  The League is disappointed in this overreach—the consequences of poorly thought-through policymaking.” – Sara Higgins, Executive Director, Columbia Basin Development League

“The release of the Final Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rule by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) while the U.S. Supreme Court is deliberating on the landmark case Sackett v. EPA is a thinly veiled attempt to address questions posed to the EPA during oral arguments to avoid a ruling in favor of landowners. The case focuses on the term “significant nexus”: how effected are downstream waters by upstream and/or adjacent activities and what does “adjacent” mean in the context of the Clean Water Act. The Final WOTUS Rule seeks to work as an end-run around the potential ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court by defining the bodies of water subject to WOTUS, clarifying what bodies of water are excluded from WOTUS jurisdiction, and creating a glossary of definitions. Rather than releasing the Final Rule ahead of the conclusion of Sackett v. EPA, which could significantly alter the language of WOTUS and its reach, the EPA and Corps would have better served the U.S. by waiting for the court’s decision. Potentially duplicating or revising work completed and released so recently when a court decision is expected this spring is a wasteful use of funds and may create more long-term confusion. If the court’s decision alters the Final WOTUS Rule, all documentation, public information, and other materials will have to be updated just a few short months from now and a new push to help stakeholders understand the rule will have to occur.” – Pam Lewison, Agriculture Research Director, Washington Policy Center

“The Biden Administration is sowing more confusion in the long, drawn-out WOTUS saga. The Supreme Court is set to rule on the Sackett case that will provide clarity on what constitutes a Water of the United States by the end of this term, yet the administration is jumping the gun and issuing another rule. EPA can’t usurp a Supreme Court ruling and the interpretation isn’t going to be any more convincing to this court than other attempts, so what’s the point other than regulation for regulation’s sake?” – Kathleen Sgamma, President, Western Energy Alliance

“Washington wheat farmers need clarity and certainty regarding federal and state regulations in order to successfully grow their crops, and we are concerned that federal jurisdiction leaves little room for decisions made by local, on-the-ground experts. We will continue to review the final rule to understand how it will impact our farmers going forward.” – Michelle Hennings, Executive Director, Washington Association of Wheat Growers

“NMPF is disappointed that once again dairy farmers, who every day strive to be leaders in environmental stewardship, may need to live under a WOTUS rule that is cumbersome, unclear and overly complicated. Because the EPA’s most recent iteration fails to resolve what is now a 50-year struggle to define what constitutes a water body subject to federal regulation under the Clean Water Act, our members will face continued uncertainty as they attempt to comprehend and comply with unclear regulations.” – Jim Mulhern, President and CEO, National Milk Producers Federation

Last January, Rep. Newhouse called on the Biden Administration to terminate their proposed WOTUS rulemaking after the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would consider a case focused on the scope of the definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS).

Rep. Newhouse hosted a podcast episode featuring Charles Yates of the Pacific Legal Foundation, one of the contributing lawyers in the Sackett v. EPA Supreme Court case, as well as Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) and Illinois Farm Bureau President Rich Guebert, to discuss the impacts WOTUS has on rural communities and potential implications of the Supreme Court decision. Click here to listen.
In July 2021, when the Biden Administration announced their intention to revise and remand the Trump Administration’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule, Rep. Newhouse led Western Caucus Members in a bicameral letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan and Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jaime Pinkham to express their serious concerns and demand answers about the Administration’s plans to reopen the definition of “waters of the United States.” Click here to read the letter and learn more.

Rep. Newhouse led Congressional Western Caucus Members in condemning the Biden Administration for publishing the rule ahead of the Supreme Court’s Sackett v. EPA decision. Click here to read more.


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