A top Senate Republican wants his Democratic colleagues to turn their back on an Environmental Protection Agency water regulation and commit to working on new legislation in light of a report he commissioned that found agency overreach in interpreting the new rule.
Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., released a new report on how the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers plan to interpret and exercise the Waters of the United States Rule, should it survive a court challenge.
The Waters of the United States rule, commonly referred to as WOTUS, seeks to clarify which bodies of water can be regulated by the government in the wake of several Supreme Court cases.
Inhofe’s report discusses a number of case studies in how the agencies used the rule, before it was halted by a court challenge, in a way that Inhofe believes gives the bureaucracy too much power.
The senior senator from Oklahoma argues the EPA and the Corps are using the broadest possible claims of jurisdiction to enforce environmental regulations. That includes labeling trenches made for planting in farmers’ fields as “mini mountain ranges” and defining puddles, standing water and tire tracks as “disturbed wetlands,” allowing them to be regulated.
Ten Democrats and an independent senator in a November 2015 letter to the EPA said they would “reserve the right” to revise the rule through legislation if it didn’t provide the clarity farmers are seeking. Inhofe said his report proves that the rule is more confusing than clarifying, and it’s time for the Democrats to withdraw their support for the rule.