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Rounds: WOTUS was Illegal Power Grab; New Rule Must be Upheld

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, joined Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and a number of their colleagues to introduce a resolution that expresses the need for the U.S. Senate to stand with workers, farmers, ranchers, landowners, manufacturers and businesses by upholding the Trump administration’s Navigable Waters Protection rule, which replaced the Obama-era Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. 


“We must uphold the previous administration’s Navigable Waters Protection rule, which gives farmers, ranchers and landowners the clarity they need to know when the Clean Water Act applies to them and when it does not,” said Rounds. “The Obama administration’s Waters of the U.S. rule was an illegal power grab by the federal government, which was why it was tied up in the court system for so long. It infringed upon the rights of South Dakota landowners. We strongly urge the Biden administration to keep the Navigable Waters Protection rule in place.”


In addition to Rounds and Ernst, the resolution is supported by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), James Risch (R-Idaho), John Barasso (R-Wyo.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Mike Braun (R-Ind.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.).



In 2015, the Obama administration finalized a rule that expanded the definition of the Waters of the United States. This rule created confusion and burdensome red tape for South Dakota’s agriculture industry and many others. When the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed the WOTUS rule, Rounds introduced legislation, which was passed by committee, to stop it.


In 2018, the Trump administration released a proposed rule to replace the Obama administration’s 2015 WOTUS rule with a new rule that provided much-needed predictability and certainty for farmers by establishing clear and reasonable definitions of what qualifies as a “water of the United States.” The new Navigable Waters Protection Rule was finalized last year.


On day one of his administration, President Biden signed an executive order that would roll back the Trump Administration’s executive order which began the process of rescinding Obama’s WOTUS rule. This is why Rounds joined the resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that the Navigable Waters Protection Rule should not be withdrawn or vacated.



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