WASHINGTON (Nov. 4, 2015) – U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and David Perdue, R-Ga., today voted to disapprove and overturn the President Obama’s onerous “Waters of the United States” regulation, calling the rule a massive federal land grab by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that will expose farmers, ranchers, home owners, and businesses to significant compliance costs and new fines.
The Senate passed the joint resolution of disapproval by a vote of 53-44. The resolution, which would prevent the implementation of the EPA’s water rule, will now head to the U.S. House of Representatives.
“The administration’s ‘Waters of the United States’ rule allows federal bureaucrats to assert control over thousands of streams, creeks, wetlands, ponds and ditches throughout the country,” said Senator Isakson. “This rule harms not only landowners, but our entire agriculture industry in Georgia. I applaud the Senate passage of Senator Ernst’s resolution.”
“Washington’s fourth branch of government, the regulators, originally put this rule in place with complete disregard for the negative impact it would have on Georgia farmers and landowners,” said Senator Perdue. “Thirty-one states have come together to stop this land grab and today we’re finally putting this harmful regulation back on President Obama’s desk for him to strongly reconsider.”
Senators Isakson and Perdue also cosponsored S.1140, the Federal Water Quality Protection Act, which would require a revision of the “Waters of the United States” rule to define clear limits and to take into account an economic analysis of the rule. Earlier this week, this legislation failed to get the 60 votes necessary to advance in the Senate due to opposition from Senate Democrats.
Action against the EPA’s rule has also been taken by the courts. Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled in favor of Georgia and 17 states in granting a nationwide stay of the Obama Administration’s “Waters of the United States” regulation. In addition, Attorney General Olens is also challenging the same regulation in a case brought in the U.S. District for the Southern District of Georgia that is now on appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.
On March 25, 2014, EPA and the Corps released their proposed rule redefining “Waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act. The term “Waters of the United States” is the Clean Water Act’s threshold provision that determines whether the law’s permitting and regulatory requirements apply to a particular body of water.
The proposed rule, which was finalized on September 17, 2015, will provide EPA and the Corps, as well as environmental groups, with a powerful tool to delay and prevent development and land use activities on property owned by homeowners, farms, small businesses and municipalities. Federal bureaucrats—and not state and local authorities—could assert control over thousands of rivers, streams, lakes and marshes throughout the country.