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Lankford, Colleagues Push Back Against Biden’s Plans for WOTUS Replacement

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) joined Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and their colleagues to introduce legislation that would codify the Trump-era Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR) in light of the Biden Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) promising to replace the NWPR with a new rule that goes even further than the Obama-era Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rule. If the NWPR is replaced, the EPA could go as far as regulating ditches on private lands and converted croplands, which would ultimately hurt the agriculture, construction, home building, forestry, mining, and energy sectors of the economy.

“President Trump’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule finally gave Oklahomans the needed clarity to comply with the Waters of the US rule. Now President Biden wants to replace the clear rule with another legal overreach that will once again cost Oklahomans millions of dollars in litigation and frustration,” said Lankford. “Oklahomans want clean, safe water, but extreme interpretations of the Waters of the US rule force Oklahoma farmers, ranchers, and developers to spend tremendous time and money to discover what the federal government will allow them to do on their own land. People want the government to set up a fair rule and then leave it alone. Our legislation would put in law the clear rule created by President Trump so Oklahoman farmers, ranchers, and business owners can focus on their operations, not on changing federal regulations.”

Joining Lankford and Capito to introduce the legislation were Senators Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Richard Shelby (R-AL), John Boozman (R-AR), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), John Barrasso (R-WY), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Jim Risch (R-ID), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Richard Burr (R-NC), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Steve Daines (R-MT), Tim Scott (R-SC), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Ben Sasse (R-NE), John Hoeven (R-ND), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), and Josh Hawley (R-MO).

In 2015, Lankford and Inhofe sent a letter to the EPA to seek further clarification regarding compliance for the WOTUS rule, and Lankford was a cosponsor of a Senate resolution to nullify the expanded WOTUS definition. He also voted for a resolution of disapproval of the EPA’s WOTUS rule in November 2015. In 2017, Lankford applauded President Trump’s Executive Order that required the EPA and other applicable departments to review the WOTUS rule, ensure it promotes economic growth and minimizes regulatory uncertainty.