Senate votes on several WOTUS issues

While the vote to move ahead with S 1140 failed, a resolution calling for disapproval of WOTUS passed the Senate. Staff photo

Shortly after voting not to end debate on a bill that would require the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw their Clean Water Rule and start over, the Senate approved, 53-44 a joint resolution sponsored by Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, calling for the disapproval of the rule, which is also known as the Waters of the United States rule.

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, a supporter of both measures, said, “Unfortunately, a filibuster by a minority of the Senate and a veto threat by the president will ensure that the courts decide this instead of the representatives of the American people.”

The White House Office of Management and Budget said that President Barack Obama’s advisers would recommend a veto if the bill reached his desk. The house has not yet taken up the resolution.

“While the effort to send the flawed Waters of the U.S. rule back to the drawing board fell a few votes short, we applaud members of the U.S. Senate who today stood up for farmers and ranchers,” American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman said in a statement regarding the vote for cloture on S 1140, the bill to withdraw the rule.

Farmers and ranchers are confident the courts will strike down this rule, but cases like this almost always take years to win-and stays don’t last forever, so they and many other landowners were urging the Senate to pass legislation that would nullify the rule, just as the House has already done.

The Senate bill, the Federal Water Quality Protection Act (S. 1140), would force EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to scrap its own, extreme interpretation of the Clean Water Act and craft a new rule that would fall within the parameters of Congress’ intent. The EPA and Army Corps would be required to take into consideration the valid concerns of farmers, ranchers, home builders and others who would be affected by the new rule, said the Farm Burea in an official news release.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Public Lands Council appreciate the bi-partisan support for the resolution.

NCBA President, Philip Ellis said the joint resolution passed by the Senate (53-44) could put the regulation to rest.

“America’s cattlemen and women are drowning in federal regulation that adds burdens, costs and uncertainty to our businesses,” said Ellis “The WOTUS regulation is the greatest overreach yet. If allowed to take effect, it would give EPA jurisdiction over millions of acres of state and private property. Without action by Congress and the President to withdraw this rule; producers, stakeholders and states will be forced to continue litigation, adding millions of dollars in expenses and years in delay.”

The joint resolution passed by the Senate was brought by Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) under the Congressional Review Act. This resolution would order the EPA and Corps to withdraw the WOTUS rule and would prevent the agencies from further similar rulemaking. The joint resolution must now be passed by the House and signed by the President.

–The Hagstrom Report, NCBA, American Farm Bureau