Lucas: Re-Establishing WOTUS Definition ‘Dismantles Clarity, Certainty, and Common Sense’ For Oklahomans

November 22, 2021
Press Release

Cheyenne, OK – Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of the Army announced a proposed rule to re-establish the pre-2015 definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS). Congressman Frank Lucas (OK-03) released the following statement in response to the Biden Administration’s announcement:

“Although today’s EPA action avoids returning to the disastrous overreach of the 2015 Obama Rule, it does dismantle the clarity, certainty, and common sense understanding that came with the Trump Administration’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule,” said Rep. Frank Lucas (OK-03). “As President Biden moves forward with an attempt to revise the definition of Waters of the United States, I implore his Administration to avoid tying the hands of our nation’s farmers and landowners by subjecting them to unprecedented federal overreach. The farmers, ranchers, small business owners, and landowners of Oklahoma deserve a streamlined rule that allows them to continue their stewardship of the environment and economic growth.”

Background:

In 2015, the Obama Administration’s WOTUS Rule significantly expanded the definition of "waters of the United States" and gave the federal government authority to regulate almost any waters; including streams, ditches, ponds, and creeks.

In 2020, the Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR), finalized by the Trump Administration, revised the definition of WOTUS and reversed this overreach, bringing back a balance between federal and state jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. 

Following his inauguration on January 20th, 2021, President Joe Biden signed Executive Order 13990 which directed federal agencies to review all existing regulations, orders, guidance documents, policies, and any other similar agency actions promulgated, issued, or adopted between January 20, 2017, and January 20, 2021, including the Navigable Waters Protection Rule.

Under the direction of Executive Order 13990, on June 9th, 2021, the EPA and the U.S. Department of the Army announced their intent to revise the definition of WOTUS.

In September of 2019, The Oklahoman Editorial Board praised the repeal of the Obama Administration’s WOTUS Rule and stated the repeal was “good news for the state’s farmers and ranchers”.

Lucas has long been a supporter of community-led, voluntary conservation efforts and was proud to cosponsor a resolution that expressed the sense of the House of Representatives that clean water is a national priority and that the NWPR should be maintained.

 

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