Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO) and Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Ranking Member David Rouzer (R-NC) have asked the Biden Administration for more transparency about the formation, intent, and execution of stakeholder roundtables on the Administration's plans to create a new definition of "Waters of the United States" (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act.
Graves and Rouzer, in a letter to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael S. Regan and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Michael L. Connor, highlighted:
the Administration's obvious rush to move forward with their WOTUS rulemaking despite no clear timeline or plans for executing the stakeholder roundtables;
the prematureness of any rulemaking that doesn't await the results of the pending Sackett Supreme Court case;
the administrative burdens placed on the stakeholder community, rather than the federal Agencies, in organizing these roundtables -- particularly smaller stakeholder groups that may lack the resources necessary to meet the requirements for applying to participate in the roundtables;
the lack of transparency in how the Agencies will decide which stakeholders can participate in the roundtables; and
the shift in the Agencies' stated purpose of the roundtables -- the roundtables are no longer described as allowing stakeholders to provide input to the Agencies' work in developing a new WOTUS definition; the Agencies' roundtable description has now made it clear they have moved on to discussing implementation of a new WOTUS rule without first gathering stakeholder feedback.
Graves and Rouzer have repeatedly stated their opposition to the unnecessary burdens a broader WOTUS definition would have on farmers, small businesses, local communities, and many other stakeholders and private citizens, which is why stakeholder input in this process is so important. However, in their letter, they state it appears, " the Agencies are not interested in soliciting and considering feedback for a new WOTUS definition. Rather, it appears they have already moved onto implementation of a new definition of WOTUS, despite ongoing legal challenges and an anticipated ruling from the Supreme Court. We strongly believe that the Agencies must fairly and genuinely utilize this roundtable process to incorporate as much input as possible from across the spectrum of the regulated community prior to reaching a final regulatory decision. This simply cannot be a perfunctory exercise for the Agencies that is designed to encourage failure instead of success."
Click here to read the full letter.
On June 25, 2021, Graves, Rouzer, and Republican leaders highlighted concerns with the Administration's plans to undo the Navigable Waters Protection Rule.
On August 25, 2021, Graves and Rouzer urged the Agencies to extend the timeframe for public comments and stakeholder input on a new WOTUS rulemaking.
On October 26, 2021, Graves and Rouzer issued these statements regarding the Administration's rushed roundtable process.
On January 20, 2022, Graves and Rouzer requested more time to allow adequate public comment on the WOTUS rulemaking.
On January 24, 2022, Graves and Rouzer first called for a halt to the Agencies' rulemaking, based on the Supreme Court's decision to take up the Sackett case.
On March 8, 2022, Graves, Rouzer, and over 200 House Republicans renewed calls for the Administration to drop its plan to expand the scope of WOTUS and allow the Supreme Court to take up its case.
On April 18, 2022, Graves, Rouzer, and Senator Shelley Moore Capito led 201 Republican Members and Senators in filing an amici curiae brief in support of the petitioners in the case Sackett case.