Bill replaces controversial “Waters of the U.S.” rule with common sense definition of “navigable waters”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler introduced a bill to repeal the controversial “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) Rule and clarify that the Clean Water Act remains in effect as it has been interpreted for more than four decades.
The current WOTUS rule expands the definition of “navigable waters” under the Clean Water Act to include water that is not “navigable” under any previous interpretation or common sense definition, including seasonal wet spots, puddles and small man-made ditches. WOTUS would require private landowners with such puddles and ditches on their property to obtain costly Clean Water Act permits when improving their land, costing thousands of dollars and years of wait time.
Jaime’s bill would clarify that “navigable waters” includes territorial seas, interstate waters that are navigable-in-fact, tributaries to the interstate, navigable-in-fact waters, and wetlands that have a continuous surface water connection to interstate, navigable-in-fact waters or their tributaries. The legislation also blocks the federal government’s ability to grant itself the unprecedented authority to regulate seasonal wet areas, ponds, puddles and ditches as “navigable waters,” whether on public or private property.
The bill, titled Regulatory Certainty for Navigable Waters Act, would also require the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to act upon request within 60 days to determine whether water on a private property is a covered wetland under the Clean Water Act, relieving property owners from waiting lengthy periods of time for a costly review.
“It is time for Congress to provide permanent relief for Southwest Washington farmers and landowners who would be so detrimentally impacted by this devastating rule that would cost time, money and jobs,” Jaime said. “It is unthinkable that D.C. bureaucrats and courts would allow the federal government to regulate every pond and ditch on private property – overturning four decades of effective Clean Water Act protection of our lands. My bill is necessary to defend Southwest Washington residents from this egregious government power grab.”
The Obama Administration’s “Waters of the United States” rule that was finalized in 2015 changed four decades of Clean Water Act policy and expanded the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers’ authority to regulate every ditch, man-made pond, and seasonally-wet area on public and private property as “navigable waters.”
The power given to these agencies allows them to require a Clean Water Act permit for “navigable waters.” A Supreme Court case from 2006 cited:
· A Clean Water Act permit costs $270,000 on average to obtain
· Permits take an average of 788 days to obtain
· Penalties for violation of the Clean Water Act can be up to $37,500 per day