A majority of Congressional members have voiced opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule, and now House members will have a chance to vote on a measure which would stop EPA from implementing the rule and its accompanying interpretive rule on agricultural exemptions.
The House Rules Committee is scheduled to review H.R. 5078, legislation prohibiting the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers from finalizing the proposed Waters of the U.S. regulation.
In a scheduled meeting late in the afternoon on Monday, the Rules Committee will establish the rules of debate for the House, which is expected shortly after the bill clears the Rules Committee. A vote by the full House of Representatives on H.R. 5078 is expected later on in the week.
H.R. 5078 addresses both the proposed regulation and the interpretive rule related to exempt agriculture activities and prevents the agencies from directly or indirectly using the documents as the basis for decisions regarding the scope of the Clean Water Act (CWA).
The CWA was originally intended to allow the federal government to regulate navigable waters; but recent court decisions have questioned the definition of which bodies of water are “navigable” and if the CWA has jurisdiction over them. Due to this uncertainty, the EPA proposed a rule to clarify the waters of the U.S. and also issued an interpretive rule to explain how the proposed rule would impact CWA exemptions for agriculture.
Action in the full House comes after the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology recently released maps of waters and wetlands the EPA has to-date. The maps show waters and wetlands in all 50 states and look to detail the reach of the waters of the U.S. proposal.