Opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to expand jurisdiction to include regulation of smaller bodies of water through the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule continues to grow. Today, Senate Western Caucus Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY) and Congressional Western Caucus co-chairs Stevan Pearce (R-NM) and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) joined 43 other Caucus Members in sending a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. 

In their letter, the Caucus members call on the EPA to refrain from moving forward with their controversial rule that will drastically expand federal regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act. The members also highlight their view on how this rule will negatively impact farms, small businesses, energy production, commercial development and substantially interfere with the ability of individual landowners to use their property.

"We urge you to change course by committing to operating under the limits established by Congress, recognizing the states' primary role in regulating and protecting their streams, ponds, wetlands and other bodies of water.  We also again ask that you consider the economic impacts of your policies knowing that your actions will have serious impacts on struggling families, seniors, low-income households and small business owners," Caucus Members wrote.

This week The Hill reported that Arizona’s senators are also urging McCarthy to step back from plans to expand the agency’s regulatory authority. The draft rule, proposed last month, would include smaller wetlands and streams. Opponents say it could have a devastating impact, particularly on the agricultural industry, which relies on unencumbered access to those bodies of water.

Sens. Jeff Flake (R) and John McCain (R) join the expanding group of lawmakers taking a critical view of the EPA Waters of the United States rule, which seeks to clarify which bodies of water the agency can regulate. “Unfortunately, the current EPA proposal dramatically expands federal jurisdiction and will likely yield only the next step in an unnecessarily iterative process and create significant regulatory uncertainty,” McCain and Flake wrote this week in a letter to McCarthy. 

The lawmakers acknowledged the EPA’s decision to limit federal jurisdiction by excluding gullies, rills and swales from the definition of “waters of the U.S.,” but argued the agency should be more specific about what bodies of water would be subject to regulation. 

They also contend that the EPA has underestimated the economic damage that would be wrought by the rule.