Cheyenne, OK – Congressman Frank Lucas (OK-03) released the following statement today after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced a final rule revising the definition of “Waters of the United States”- or WOTUS:
“I am extremely discouraged by the EPA’s actions regulating wetlands and waters in a manner inconsistent with the Clean Water Act,” said Congressman Frank Lucas (OK-03). “During this time when increased agriculture production and growth are critical, the rule fails to provide certainty for America’s farmers and ranchers. Furthermore, the Biden Administration’s contradictory rule ensures lengthy litigation surrounding the scope of federal regulatory authority of our nation’s waterways will continue with confusion and regulatory uncertainty. Oklahoma’s farmers, ranchers, and landowners have demonstrated their responsible stewardship of the land for generations, and I will continue to stand with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in opposition to the continued inconsistent interpretation of the Clean Water Act.”
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. Lucas strongly opposed the Biden Administration’s Order.
In June of 2021, Lucas joined a bicameral Western Caucus letter expressing serious concerns with the Biden Administration’s decision to remand the 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR) and reopen the definition of “Waters of the United States.”
In November of 2021, following the announcement of the Biden Administration’s proposed rule, Lucas statedthe EPA’s action’s revising WOTUS would “dismantle the clarity, certainty, and common sense understanding that came with the Trump Administration’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule.”
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.