Latta Introduces Legislation to Define Navigable Waters

Press Release

Date: April 19, 2021
Location: Washington, DC

Today, Congressman Bob Latta (R-OH5) introduced the Withstanding Attempts to Encroach on our Resources (WATER) Act. The legislation would amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act and define the term Waters of the United States (WOTUS).

"In 2015, the Obama Administration's Corps of Engineers and Environmental Protection Agency revised regulations defining the scope of waters protected and regulated under the Clean Water Act," said Latta. "This significantly expanded Federal jurisdiction over virtually all waters and wet areas in the United States. This decision, known as the 2015 WOTUS rule, infringes on the rights of property owners, particularly in agricultural communities. Landowners, farmers, home builders, and construction companies would have to use limited resources to apply for costly, time-consuming permits for ponds, ditches, or puddles, which they may not even be able to obtain. The rule is an alarming regulatory overreach of the executive branch into policy that should be addressed by Congress through the legislative process. I am proud to introduce the WATER Act because we need to codify and better define the definition of WOTUS and give back the rights to property owners."

Congressman David B. McKinley, P.E., Republican Leader of the House Energy and Commerce Environment Subcommittee, is an original cosponsor of the WATER Act.

"In 2020, the Trump Administration thankfully put an end to the Obama-era "Waters of the U.S.' rule, which extended the federal government's reach to regulate waters on private lands," said McKinley. "Codifying the rule will help farmers and businesses operate without fearing overreach of the federal regulators. In so doing they can help us support the economy and build out critical infrastructure projects."

The Obama Administration's WOTUS rule significantly expands the scope and jurisdiction of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corp of Engineers to include the majority of all waters and wet areas in the United States.

On June 22, 2020, the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers under the Trump Administration revisited the 2015 WOTUS rule and finalized a revised definition of WOTUS through their Navigable Waters Protection Rule to address legal, economic, and jurisdictional concerns surrounding the previous definition.

This legislation would codify the definition of WOTUS as revised under the June 22, 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Rule. By codifying the rule, this will ensure that any future efforts to expand the definition of WOTUS that will infringe on the rights of our constituents will need to be considered in Congress.