US House Votes to Kill WOTUS- and Require EPA to Include Stakeholders in RewriteWed, 13 May 2015 05:17:07 CDT
The House voted to kill the Obama administration's proposed Clean Water Act rule- otherwise known as WOTUS- but the margin was far short of the two-thirds support that would be needed to override a likely presidential veto.
The 261-155 vote served to put members on record on the rule, which is under final review at the Office of Management and Budget. A two-thirds majority would have required 278 “yes” votes.
A similar measure has been introduced in the Senate and awaits action on that side of Capitol Hill.
In addition to trying to kill the WOTUS rule outright, House Republicans also have started attaching provisions to fiscal 2016 appropriations bills that would prevent implementation of the rule starting Oct. 1.
The House's fiscal 2016 funding bill (HR 2028) for the Army Corps of Engineers passed the House 240-177 on May 1 with such a provision. But only 10 Democrats voted for the measure, leaving it well short of a veto-proof majority.
After the vote, both the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and the American Farm Bureau were quick to praise the House for the vote to roll back the proposed rule and start over.
In a statement attributed to Phillip Ellis, the President of the NCBA- the cattle group said "“We commend the members of the House on taking this action to protect America’s farmers, ranchers and land stewards from this Administration’s overzealous regulatory agenda. The proposed rule that the EPA and Army Corps’ are working quickly to finalize would put yet another regulatory burden on the rural economy and private landowners. This action by Congress will ensure that our private lands remain viable and productive, leaving landowners free to undertake stewardship and production decisions without interference by the EPA and the Administration. We urge the Senate to pass their companion legislation and send this to the President’s desk.”
Meanwhile, Bob Stallman, President of the American Farm Bureau offered this reaction:
“Members of the House today sent a strong, bipartisan message that the flawed Waters of the U.S. Rule is unacceptable and should be scrapped. Furthermore, it was refreshing to see members of Congress order regulators back to the drawing board, with an admonition to listen to the very real concerns of people who would have their farm fields and ditches regulated in the same manner as navigable streams.
“The way that the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers drew up the WOTUS rule, it was more about regulating land than it ever was about protecting valuable water resources. Farmers and ranchers know all about the importance of protecting water, and they will continue to put that belief into practice. Through cooperative conservation measures, we have helped cut land erosion by more than 50 percent in just the last 20 years. We have reduced pesticide use and today use technology to apply just the right amount of fertilizer at just the right time. We look forward to a new water rule that recognizes the enormous work we have done, and honors the limits authorized by Congress and the Supreme Court.”
The Vice President for Government Affairs for NCBA, Colin Woodall, also weighed in after the vote- and you can hear his comments by clicking on the LISTEN BAR below. He earlier told Farm Director Ron Hays of the Radio Oklahoma Ag Network that Congress is racing against EPA and the OMB to see who can get something done on WOTUS ahead of the other. If Congress could get a measure that delays or derails WOTUS in place that is not vetoed by the President- a battle in the Federal courts could be avoided. If Gina McCarty gets a green light from the Office of Management and Budget to publish a final rule- she will gain the upper hand and force a costly and potentially lengthy court battle over WOTUS to begin.
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