Wicker Votes to Overturn EPA’s Water Rule
Following Judicial Action, Senate Acts to Stop Administration’s Overreach
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., today voted for a Senate proposal to overturn an Obama Administration rule that would give the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers new power to regulate irrigation ditches, isolated ponds, prairie potholes, and other non-navigable waters. The Senate passed the resolution of disapproval authored by Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, by a vote 53-44. It now awaits action in the House of Representatives.
“The Administration’s ‘waters of the U.S.’ (WOTUS) rule is a massive federal overreach with hardly any environmental benefit – if at all,” Wicker said. “Americans are right to be concerned. This regulation could have a far-reaching impact on our lives and our private property. I am particularly concerned about what this could mean for our nation’s farmers and ranchers, especially in states like Mississippi where agriculture is one of the leading industries.”
Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ordered a nationwide stay of the rule pending further judicial proceedings. It found that the rulemaking process was likely “facially suspect” and that the regulation itself was out of step with Supreme Court precedent.
“Everything from property rights to economic development could be affected,” Wicker continued. “Small ponds and even ditches could be subject to the decisions of Washington bureaucrats. This expansion of federal regulation could also adversely affect conservation efforts that are working at the state level. In Mississippi, we have begun considerable work with farm drainage ditches to enhance conservation. WOTUS threatens to undermine this important work.
“It is clear that it should be revised in a way that protects the rights of farmers, ranchers, landowners, and the American public. Americans do not deserve this unnecessary confusion and job-killing red tape.”
Yesterday, Wicker voted in favor of the “Federal Water Quality Protection Act,” S. 1140. That measure would have directed EPA and the Army Corps to issue a revised WOTUS rule to protect traditional navigable water and wetlands from water pollution, while also protecting farmers, ranchers, and private landowners. Although the proposal received 57 votes in the Senate, it did not reach the 60-vote threshold needed to proceed because of Democratic opposition.