Sullivan Criticizes Biden Admin’s Resuscitated, Overreaching WOTUS Rule

ANCHORAGE, ALASKA—U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, today released the following statement criticizing the Biden administration’s recently-announced Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rule under the Clean Water Act.

“The Biden administration today announced its ‘final’ Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rule, resuscitating the burdensome and overreaching Obama-era ‘final’ interpretation of the Clean Water Act and giving the EPA vast authority over lands across the country, particularly in Alaska, which has more wetlands than any other state in the country by far. Remarkably, the Biden administration refused to pause issuing this WOTUS Rule just a few months until the Supreme Court rules in a case (Sackett vs. EPA II) that will determine the scope of the agency’s authority under the Clean Water Act. As a result, millions of hard-working Americans and Alaskans are left in regulatory limbo. 

“Under this rule, land owners face the potential for thousands of dollars in litigation and months of bureaucratic back-and-forth just to fill a ditch or build a structure on their own property. This rule abandons the balanced, bipartisan and statutorily-based implementation of the Clean Water Act that we had achieved working with the Trump administration, through multiple court victories, and through multiple field hearings I chaired as a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee—including in Alaska. 

“The truth is, all Americans want clean water, and we have some of the country’s cleanest water right here in Alaska. But the federal government should not take authority from states and run rough shod over the law, good-paying jobs, and our economy—which is on the verge of a recession—to achieve that goal. I will do everything I can to fight this illegal federal power grab, and I look forward to the Supreme Court once again reining in this out-of-control federal agency.” 

Below is a timeline of Sen. Sullivan’s work on the WOTUS Rule.

  • On April 6 and April 8, 2015, Sen. Sullivan chaired Environment and Public Works Subcommittee field hearings in Anchorage and in Fairbanks on the impacts of the previously proposed WOTUS Rule on state and local governments and stakeholders.
  • On April 30, 2015, Sen. Sullivan, along with Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Pat Roberts (R-Kas.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), introduced the bipartisan Federal Water Quality Protection Act (S. 1140) to direct the EPA and the Department of the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to issue a revised WOTUS Rule that protects navigable water from water pollution, while also protecting farmers, ranchers and private landowners.
  • On May 19, 2015, Sen. Sullivan chaired a subcommittee legislative hearing on S.1140 The Federal Water Quality Protection Act. This bill would have withdrawn the WOTUS Rule and required EPA to more appropriately define what bodies are “Waters of the United States.”
  • On October 9, 2015, Sen. Sullivan issued a statement on the nationwide stay of the EPA’s previous WOTUS Rule.
  • On September 30, 2015, Sen. Sullivan chaired a subcommittee hearing titled “Oversight of the Army Corps of Engineers’ Participation in the Development of the New Regulatory Definition of ‘Waters of the United States.’”
  • On May 24, 2016 Sen. Sullivan chaired a subcommittee hearing titled “Erosion of Exemptions and Expansion of Federal Control –Implementation of the Definition of Waters of the United States.” 
  • On February 28, 2017, Sen. Sullivan attended a meeting at the White House where President Trump signed an executive order that began to roll back the EPA’s Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rule.
  • On April 26, 2017, the EPW committee held an oversight hearing titled “A Review of the Technical, Scientific, and Legal Basis of the WOTUS Rule.” At the hearing, Chairman Barrasso called for the withdrawal of the fundamentally flawed rule. Witnesses testified that the 2015 WOTUS Rule is not supported by the Corps’ experience and expertise, scientific studies, or the law.
  • On June 27, 2017, Senator Sullivan shared his views on the EPA’s efforts to withdraw and rewrite the overreaching WOTUS Rule.
  • On September 27, 2017, Senator Sullivan, along with committee members Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Jerry Moran (R-Kas.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), sent a letter to the EPA and the Corps in support of the proposed withdrawal of the 2015 WOTUS Rule.
  • On December 11, 2018, the EPA and the Corps proposed a revised definition of the WOTUS Rule.
  • In January 2020, the EPA and the Corps issued a revised definition of the WOTUS Rule.

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