EPA Administrator On New WOTUS Rule: I wish it was that simple

EPA Administrator Michael Regan appeared before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works where he took questions about the current WOTUS rule, and what could or could not be determined by the Sackett Case.

Senator Pete Ricketts was the first to question the Adminstrator.

“My question then goes to with the Sackett Case coming up. Won’t the Sackett Case, Omean, is it your opinion that Sackett Case is not actually going to clarify what navigable is with regard to these definitions,” asked Ricketts.

Administrator Regan said it is more complicated than that.

“Well, I really wish it was as simple as you’ve just laid out, but to your point, multiple administrations haven’t gotten the right since 2015. The Supreme Court has weighed in multiple times, so it’s not quite as as clear as that picture you’ve painted. I do agree that the Sackett Case will have some impact on the rule, and part of our calculation is this rule is designed to absorb whatever ruling the Sackett Case renders, so that we can move forward with that latest version of the law. The reason we did not wait is because we have a rule in place that will be impacted. We don’t know how much, potentially by Sackett and we will adjust that rule and move forward if we had waited until this ruling in June. We would have had to start a 2 year process, if not more, and that would have left a lot more uncertainty because of the vacature of the Trump rule and because the Obama rule was not in place,” said Regan.

Ricketts asked if the process starts all over there.

“So if the second rule the Supreme Court comes back and says no navigable will actually mean navigable is defined by Merriam-Webster here what congress intent was in 1972, aren’t you have to go through that two year waiting period all over again?”

Regan said WOTUS is more expansive.

“No, we believe that there are other aspects of voters that we have already taken care of and then we will adjust to that new definition. WOTUS is a little bit more expansive and impactful than just Navigable Waters. So we’ve taken care of all of those other externalities. We would adjust whatever decision we get from Sackett and then we would be moving forward on what we predict to be a much shorter time frame.”

That hearing was on EPA’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2024. EPA requested more than $12.1 billion in discretionary spending, which is a 19 percent increase over this year’s budget.

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