Brad Little and 24 other governors urged President Biden to postpone implementing any updates to the Clean Water Act, including the revised definition of “Waters of the United States,” until the Supreme Court rules on Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency.
The EPA published their updated definition of which wetlands and waterways are protected by the Clean Water Act in the Federal Register on Jan. 18. The new definition of “waters of the United States” would match the definition of pre-2015 and would protect:
— Waters used in interstate or foreign commerce currently, in the past, or in the future
— Interstate waters including interstate wetlands
— Intrastate lakes, rivers, streams (including intermittent streams), mudflats, sandflats, wetlands, sloughs, prairie potholes, wet meadows, playa lakes or natural ponds
— Tributaries of waters
—The territorial sea
— Wetlands adjacent to waters
Each of the waters listed would be under federal jurisdiction and subject to the rules and regulations of the EPA. Governor Little said the increased power the rule gives the agency could strain local communities.
“Biden’s overreaching WOTUS rule threatens rural communities across Idaho and America, creating uncertainty for farmers, ranchers, property owners and everyday citizens at a time when they’re already hurting from record inflation,” Governor Little said. “I’m proud to lead our nation’s Governors in calling on President Biden to abandon this attempt to subject rural America — the backbone of our nation — to more onerous federal regulation.”
The main concern cited in Little’s letter is the court’s pending ruling on Sackett v. EPA which could potentially change which waters could be regulated.
The case centers on Idaho couple Michael and Chantal Sackett who wanted to build a house on a property they own in Priest Lake, Idaho. However, when they started to place sand and gravel on the property, the EPA cited that such construction violated the Clean Waters Act.
The Sackett’s lot contained wetlands that qualify as “navigable waters,” so they needed to remove the sand and gravel in order to restore the property to its natural state in order to fall in line with EPA regulations.
The Supreme Court heard arguments Sackett v. EPA last October. A ruling is forecasted to arrive in June.
The letter questions the reasoning and benefits behind changing the implementation while knowing this case was awaiting a ruling by the Supreme Court.
According to the letter, “That opinion could significantly impact the final rule and its implementation. To change the rule multiple times in six months is an inefficient and wasteful use of state and federal resources and will impose an unnecessary strain on farmers, builders, and every other impacted sector of the American economy.”
Governors signing the joint letter to the president urged the president to hold off on implementing in order to save money. They hope this waiting period will allow the Biden administration to make the rules clear and cut out red tape.
According to the same letter, “The final WOTUS rule will require states and the regulated community to wade through an extensive and unclearly written web of interpretations.
Given the many outstanding issues the recent WOTUS rule generates, particularly in rural America, we ask that you delay implementation of the rule until the court decides Sackett. Small businesses, farmers, and communities across America simply cannot afford another costly revision.”
For those interested, click here to read the letter.