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President vetoes WOTUS resolutionPresident vetoes WOTUS resolution

Groups express disappointment in President siding with EPA and allowing water rule to go forward in court system.

Jacqui Fatka

January 20, 2016

3 Min Read
President vetoes WOTUS resolution

As expected, President Barack Obama vetoed Senate Joint Resolution 22, disapproval of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) waters of the United States rule which would nullify the rule and require EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to clarify the jurisdictional boundaries of the Clean Water Act.

In the veto message from the president, Obama said, “The rule, which is a product of extensive public involvement and years of work, is critical to our efforts to protect the Nation’s waters and keep them clean; is responsive to calls for rulemaking from the Congress, industry, and community stakeholders; and is consistent with decisions of the United States Supreme Court.”


Obama noted, “Because this resolution seeks to block the progress represented by this rule and deny businesses and communities the regulatory certainty and clarity needed to invest in projects that rely on clean water, I cannot support it. I am therefore vetoing this resolution.”

The Senate voted 53-44 on Nov. 4, 2015 and the House voted 253-166 on Jan. 6, 2016 in support of the resolution.  

Philip Ellis, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Assn., said, “In siding with the EPA, the President has ignored the will of Congress, including members of his own party. Moreover, he has taken side against the 32 states, and countless stakeholders who have challenged the WOTUS rule. With Congress clearly showing their disapproval of this rule, the consequences of WOTUS implementation now rest solely with President Obama.”

Sen. Joni Ernst (R., Iowa), who introduced the resolution, didn’t dispute that clean water was the end goal, but argued the rule was not about clean water but rather about the federal government authority to regulate what is done on private land. “This ill-conceived rule breeds uncertainty and confusion, while adding more red tape that threatens the livelihoods of many in Iowa and across the country,” Ernst said.

Public Lands Council president Brenda Richards said that while the outcome remains certain, the path is now much longer.

“Rather than ditch the rule, the President ignored the tidal wave of opposition to appease the EPA’s radical agenda,” said Richards. “Due to the President’s veto cattle producers, stakeholders, states and ultimately taxpayers are now going to have to spend millions of dollars on litigation to ultimately determine what we already know; the WOTUS rule extends beyond Congressional intent under the Clean Water Act and violates Supreme Court precedent. Once again the regulatory train wreck has landed squarely on America’s rural economy.”

NCBA and PLC filed a lawsuit in the Southern District Court in Texas on July 2, 2015. That litigation will continue. While the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals considers jurisdiction, a temporary nationwide stay on implementation of the WOTUS rule remains in effect.

National Corn Growers Assn. president Chip Bowling expressed disappointment in the veto, especially in light of the recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that stated EPA engaged in “covert propaganda” in an effort to sell the America public on this rule.

“This resolution would have given us the opportunity to work together on a better rule we can all support. Instead, the future of WOTUS remains in the hands of the courts -- which may takes months, if not years, and comes at a considerable cost,” said Bowling.

About the Author(s)

Jacqui Fatka

Policy editor, Farm Futures

Jacqui Fatka grew up on a diversified livestock and grain farm in southwest Iowa and graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications, with a minor in agriculture education, in 2003. She’s been writing for agricultural audiences ever since. In college, she interned with Wallaces Farmer and cultivated her love of ag policy during an internship with the Iowa Pork Producers Association, working in Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Capitol Hill press office. In 2003, she started full time for Farm Progress companies’ state and regional publications as the e-content editor, and became Farm Futures’ policy editor in 2004. A few years later, she began covering grain and biofuels markets for the weekly newspaper Feedstuffs. As the current policy editor for Farm Progress, she covers the ongoing developments in ag policy, trade, regulations and court rulings. Fatka also serves as the interim executive secretary-treasurer for the North American Agricultural Journalists. She lives on a small acreage in central Ohio with her husband and three children.

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