WASHINGTON – This morning, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee completed its markup of S. 1140 – The Federal Water Quality Protection Act – a bill introduced by Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) that would halt the Obama administration’s rule to expand the definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS). This legislation, which U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) is cosponsoring, would direct the administration to issue a revised proposal that would set clear limits on federal regulation of water, require consultation with states and impacted stakeholders, and ensure that a thorough economic analysis is conducted.
Senator Fischer released the following statement after the markup:
“This morning, the Environment and Public Works Committee took an important step to protect Americans from the federal government’s takeover of their water resources. The WOTUS rule would impede states’ efforts to protect water, impose costly and time-consuming permit requirements on landowners and local governments, and harm families across Nebraska. Today’s markup is an important step in stopping this rule and halting the damage it will inflict on our state’s families and economy.”
In April, Senator Fischer joined a bipartisan group of her colleagues to introduce S. 1140 – The Federal Water Quality Protection Act. The bill, which passed out of committee this morning, would prevent this joint rule from the Army Corps of Engineers and the EPA, originally known as the “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) and now renamed by the administration as the “Clean Water Rule,” from taking effect. It would also send the agencies back to the drawing board with specific directions from Congress.
USA Today reported on the administration’s release of the rule on May 27, noting:
“Some congressional Republicans — who have objected to previous Obama executive actions on items ranging from the environment to immigration — are looking to counter the new water rule with legislation that would blunt it…
“Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., called the new rule ‘an attack on the people of Nebraska’ and an ‘unprecedented overreach’ for federal control of water resources. ‘The Obama administration’s new regulation implies that Washington bureaucrats know better than the people of our state,’ Fischer said. ‘This rule is reckless and unwarranted, and I will work tirelessly to stop this expansion of federal control.’”
Senator Fischer has led a number of efforts in the Senate to enhance public input on the rule, including a March field hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee she chaired in Lincoln. As the Nebraska Radio Network noted this week, she has repeatedly urged EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to scrap the rule altogether, and has also cosponsored legislation to withdraw the proposed regulation.