WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., today voted for an amendment to defund the “waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) rule. The proposal, authored by Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., was blocked by Senate Democrats from being included in the Energy and Water Appropriations bill, which is currently being considered by the chamber.
“Despite claims from the President’s allies in Congress, this massive federal overreach is not about making water cleaner or safer,” Wicker said. “In fact, this power grab would have hardly any environmental benefit at all. Instead, it could have a far-reaching impact on the livelihoods of Mississippi farmers, ranchers, and property owners. Property rights and economic development would be at the mercy of Washington bureaucrats with new authority over small ponds and even drainage ditches. Americans do not deserve this unnecessary red tape.”
In October 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ordered a nationwide stay of the rule pending further judicial proceedings. It found that the rulemaking process was likely “facially suspect” and that the regulation itself was out of step with Supreme Court precedent.
In November 2015, Wicker voted in favor of the “Federal Water Quality Protection Act,” S. 1140. That measure would have directed EPA and the Army Corps to issue a revised WOTUS rule to protect traditional navigable water and wetlands from water pollution, while also protecting farmers, ranchers, and private landowners. Although the proposal received 57 votes in the Senate, it did not reach the 60-vote threshold needed to proceed because of Democratic opposition.
The final “waters of the U.S.” rule extends federal jurisdiction under the “Clean Water Act” to irrigation ditches, isolated ponds, prairie potholes, and other non-navigable waters. If implemented, it would force farmers, ranchers, families, home builders, manufacturers, state and local governments, small businesses, and other property owners to seek permission from the federal government before beginning any activity remotely related to water.