Press Releases

Smith Continues Fighting to Protect Farmers & Landowners from Overreaching WOTUS Rule

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Washington, September 26, 2022 | comments

WASHINGTON – On September 20th, U.S. Representative Jason Smith (Mo.) and several of his Republican colleagues sent a letter to leaders at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the United States Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to raise concerns about regulatory actions taken by the agencies that would expand their authority under the Clean Water Act to regulate “waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS). The members warned the agencies to stay within the bounds of authority granted to them by Congress.

“The Left will stop at nothing to empower Washington bureaucrats with even more command and control over the lives of rural Missourians,” said Smith. “It’s unacceptable that this administration is abusing its power so it can bring back the radical Obama-era WOTUS rule, which would give federal bureaucrats the authority to regulate any body of water – whether it’s a puddle, ditch, pond or creek – passing through or standing on private land. I’ll keep working to protect farmers and landowners from the overreaching WOTUS rule and any other efforts by Washington Democrats to force their harmful agenda on our communities."

In the letter to EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Michael L. Connor, Smith and his colleagues noted the recent Supreme Court decision in West Virginia v. EPA, in which the majority opinion stated that there are extraordinary cases in which an agency must point to “clear congressional authorization for the authority it claims.” The members noted that the West Virginia v. EPA opinion brings into question whether Congress ever intended to grant the EPA and the Corps the authority they claim.

In addition, Smith and his colleagues highlighted a prior letter sent by over 200 members of Congress requesting the Corps halt all current rule making actions until the Supreme Court rules on the pending Sackett v. EPA case, which deals precisely with the definition of WOTUS. 

Smith has a long history of opposing an expansive definition of the WOTUS rule. That’s why, during the Trump administration, he brought EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to Southeast Missouri. In a meeting with stakeholders, Wheeler was able to hear firsthand the impacts of President Obama’s disastrous WOTUS rule. That feedback was used to craft the Trump administration’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule which brought the necessary certainty stakeholders had been seeking. Unfortunately, the Biden administration is working to reverse those gains.