Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee today released a 38-page report accusing U.S. EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers of advancing “very broad claims of jurisdiction” in Clean Water Act disputes. The report also warned that a recent Supreme Court win for landowners in a case about who can challenge certain decisions about water permits in court could become “moot” if Congress does not act to withdraw the Clean Water Rule.
The Obama administration’s rule, also known as Waters of the United States, defines which waterways and wetlands receive automatic protections under the Clean Water Act. In October, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals put the rule on hold nationwide while litigation plays out . Republican members on the EPW Committee and foes of the rule have previously accused EPA and the corps of flouting the court’s order by asserting broad jurisdiction over the nation’s waterways.
The report argues that the agencies are taking a narrow view of exemptions for farming, highlighting several case studies of jurisdictional battles taking place across the country.
“The reach of federal authority claimed by EPA and the Corps is, in the words of Justice Kennedy, ‘ominous,'” the majority’s report says. “That ominous authority would be codified in the WOTUS rule. As a result, if that rule goes into effect, the hard-won right to challenge Corps jurisdictional determinations will become meaningless.”