Graves, Capito call for immediate implementation of new WOTUS ruling

U.S. Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) and U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) requested a detailed update on the planned next steps of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in implementing a new definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS).

In May, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the Sackett v. EPA case that the Biden administration’s proposed WOTUS definition was illegal, the lawmakers wrote in a June 21 letter sent to EPA Administrator Michael Regan and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Michael Connor, and they want to know how the agencies plan to move forward.

“All nine Supreme Court justices agreed that the Biden administration’s definition of WOTUS based on “significant nexus” is illegitimate, and a majority of the Court articulated a clear, easily administrable definition of WOTUS,” wrote Rep. Graves, Sen. Capito, and two other Republicans. 

“In implementing the Court’s decision, the agencies must adhere to the majority opinion and not slow-walk compliance with the decision,” they wrote. “The agencies wasted valuable time and resources by prioritizing the promulgation of a rule over the first two years of the Biden administration; that is now clearly unlawful.”

And while pleased that the Supreme Court’s ruling clearly defines the scope of the agencies’ regulatory authority, the lawmakers wrote that they are concerned that the administration is now delaying the implementation of the ruling.

For instance, in response to the Supreme Court’s decision, some Corps districts have stated that they will temporarily halt the review and issuance of approved jurisdictional determinations, according to their letter, which noted that such a freeze unnecessarily delays the permitting process for projects.

“Now the EPA and the Corps must work to bring application of WOTUS quickly and effectively in line with” the new ruling, they wrote.

“The Biden administration must now follow the law by implementing the Supreme Court’s decision with the same fervor it showed in its prior efforts on WOTUS,” wrote the lawmakers. “Failure to do so is indicative that these recent delays are needless at best, or intentional efforts to halt economic development at worst.”

They also requested a briefing from the administration before June 28.