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House Votes to Repeal Biden Regulation of US Waters, Wetlands

The House passed a resolution on March 9 to repeal a Biden administration regulation of U.S. waters and wetlands.

The resolution passed 227–198. It was passed in accordance with the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to strike down regulations within 60 days of passage. However, it’s likely that the resolution will be dead on arrival in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

In June 2021, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Army announced that they would revise what qualifies as “waters of the United States” (WOTUS). The regulation was published in the Federal Register on Jan. 18 and is set to take effect on March 20.

“When Congress passed the Clean Water Act 50 years ago, it recognized that protecting our waters is essential to ensuring healthy communities and a thriving economy,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a Dec. 30, 2022, statement. “Following extensive stakeholder engagement, and building on what we’ve learned from previous rules, EPA is working to deliver a durable definition of WOTUS that safeguards our nation’s waters, strengthens economic opportunity, and protects people’s health while providing greater certainty for farmers, ranchers, and landowners.”

In the same statement, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Michael Connor said: “This final rule recognizes the essential role of the nation’s water resources in communities across the nation. The rule’s clear and supportable definition of waters of the United States will allow for more efficient and effective implementation and provide the clarity long desired by farmers, industry, environmental organizations, and other stakeholders.”

However, ahead of the vote on the resolution, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) decried the rulemaking given that it was done by the executive branch as opposed to Congress.

In early March, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee voted to advance the resolution to the House floor.

“As American families and businesses continue suffering under the economic crises caused by the disastrous Biden policies of the last two years, this Administration has inexplicably decided to move the country back toward the overreaching, costly, and burdensome WOTUS regulations of the past,” the committee’s chairman, Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), said in a Feb. 28 statement.

In the same statement, Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chairman David Rouzer (R-N.C.) said: “With today’s committee action, the House has taken the first step necessary to rescind the Biden administration’s flawed WOTUS rule. This rule needs to be repealed so Americans across the country are protected from subjective regulatory overreach making it harder to farm, build, and generate economic prosperity.”

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