Both the Senate and House of Representatives have voted to overturn the Environmental Protection Agency’s expansion of the Clean Water Act with its Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule, but there is a solid expectation that President Obama will veto the resolution.
The House voted Wednesday to overturn the rule, and the Senate previously voted to stop EPA’s enforcement rules last November. The resolution to keep the rule from going into enforcement has been pushed mainly by Republicans. It has been challenged under the Congressional Review Act, which gives lawmakers the option to block regulations in the first 60 legislative days after they are issued. But the President can still override the congressional vote.
“Just about every wet area in the country is open to federal regulation under this rule,” said House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), according to a report in The Hill. Shuster’s committee oversees water policy.
Other than environmental activists groups, there has been limited support of the WOTUS rule, and naturally, some of the most outspoken against it have been farmers who could see EPA telling them what they could do with their land should there be the slightest potential for runoff.
House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway (R-Texas) issued a statement saying the House vote was a “critical step toward stopping what some believe to be the largest federal land grab in history.”
He said, “From the beginning, the process of developing this rule was flawed by EPA in ignoring input from stakeholders, and even other agencies including the Army Corps of Engineers. America’s farmers and ranchers deserve to have a government that will review and consider their thoughts.”
The EPA has claimed it is only trying to clarify provisions under the Clean Water Act, and congressional supporters of the rule say that there needs to be clarification about which waterways should be regulated on the federal level. Only 12 Democrats supported the resolution in the 253-166 House vote.
President Obama made his threat to veto the resolution should it reach his desk when the Senate passed its resolution in November.