Davis opposes Biden administration’s proposed WOTUS changes

A Biden administration proposal to restore an Obama-era regulation to redefine “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act would negatively impact rural America and the nation’s agriculture industry, according to U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL). 

“I’m disappointed by the Biden administration’s decision to go back to the archaic pre-2015 definition of ‘waters of the United States’ or WOTUS,” Rep. Davis said on Nov. 24. “This is yet again an example of President Biden turning his back on farmers and rural America.”

In 2015, the Obama administration finalized a regulation that expanded the definition of WOTUS, in turn expanding the EPA’s regulatory jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act to cover ditches, retention ponds, land that is traditionally dry, and other areas. 

The Trump administration released the Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR) to replace the 2015 WOTUS rule. Finalized last year, the NWPR established a definition that identifies four categories of jurisdictional waters, provides exclusions for many water features, delineates where federal regulations apply, and gives states and local authorities more flexibility to determine how to best manage waters within their borders, according to information provided by Rep. Davis’ office.

To maintain the NWPR, Rep. Davis on April 14 signed on as one of 99 original GOP cosponsors of House Resolution 318, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA) to express the sense of their chamber that the 2020 final rule should not be withdrawn or vacated, according to the congressional record summary of the resolution.

However, the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in June announced rulemakings to better protect the nation’s water resources that support public health, environmental protection, agricultural activity, and economic growth. And on Nov. 18 the EPA and the U.S. Department of the Army announced the signing of a proposed rule to revise the WOTUS definition to put back into place the pre-2015 definition of WOTUS, updated to reflect consideration of Supreme Court decisions.

“The Navigable Waters Protection Rule established in 2020 after years of public input is a common-sense solution that gives parity and certainty to our farmers,” said Rep. Davis. “It should remain in place.”