“You’ve Gone Too Far": Lawmakers exchange intense words over WOTUS

An Illinois Congressman says farmers feel the EPA has gone too far when it comes to WOTUS. There was a tense exchange in a House Subcommittee hearing as lawmakers handed some tough questions to an agency administrator.

“What we are doing is working to make sure that there is a clear legal and implementable definition of Waters of the United States,” says Radhika Fox.

Representative Michael Bost questioned Fox.

“I think the Supreme Court already ruled that you didn’t do that, right?”

Fox responded saying there are some inconsistencies with the 2023 rule and the Sackett decision.

“The Sackett decision was focused on ruling on a previous enforcement case, it was not a decision about the 2023 rule. But clearly, there are aspects of the 2023 rule that are inconsistent with the Sackett decision. Therefore, we are moving quickly to provide regulatory certainty by striking the aspects of the 2023 rule that are no longer consistent. Our rationale for doing that is that we care very much about making sure that the entire regulated community has certainty and clarity...”

Representative Michael Bost fired back.

“No, I think it’s a shame that you talk about 50 years ago when the rivers were burning, and we need to do something, that’s fine. But this is the problem that the American people feel. When the overreach comes so far, that you leave the Navigable Waters that you should be governing and controlling, and we all want clean water, to worry about what water runs off the brim of my hat is when you’ve gone too far. And that is exactly what this rule has done. And that is exactly what farmers feel.”

Ag lawmakers are calling for EPA to redo the WOTUS rule from the bottom up, but the agency has indicated that they will take more of a surgical approach. They estimate the updated rule will be issued by September 1st.