Senate votes to overturn Biden eco regulation, teeing up another likely veto

The Senate voted Wednesday in favor of a resolution overturning a Biden administration regulation aimed at protecting U.S. water sources, but which opponents have argued would harm farmers and landowners nationwide. The resolution passed in a 53-43 vote with four Democrats — Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz. — voting alongside Republicans. On March 9, the House approved the resolution in a 227-198 vote in which nine Democrats joined 218 Republicans. However, the White House issued a statement of administration policy earlier this month, vowing that President Biden would veto the resolution if Congress were to pass it. In the document, the White House explained that the regulation in question “reestablishes critical protections for the nation’s vital water resources” with updates, exclusions and streamlining clarifications. On Dec. 30, the last working day of 2022, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers quietly announced they had approved an updated Waters of the United States (WOTUS) regulation and that it would be implemented this month. After announcing it, EPA Administrator Michael Regan said the rule “safeguards our nation’s waters.” GOP OPENS INVESTIGATION INTO BIDEN ADMIN FOR OBSTRUCTING US ENERGY PRODUCERS WITH ‘RADICAL ECO-AGENDA’ The rule ultimately opens the door for the federal government to regulate wetlands, lakes, ponds, streams and “relatively permanent” waterways, largely mimicking a pre-2015 environmental rule set during the Obama administration which implemented the changes in an effort to curb water pollution. The regulation is a broad interpretation of which water sources require protection under the Clean Water Act. The Trump administration had reversed the Obama-era rules, loosening federal protections on water sources, such as puddles and ditches, that it didn’t consider navigable waterways or in need of federal oversight. A federal court, though, struck down the reversal in 2021 and implemented a middle-ground WOTUS interpretation that didn’t go as far as the Obama administration’s rule. BIDEN ADMIN BUCKS CLIMATE ACTIVISTS, HOLDS ENORMOUS TRUMP-ERA OIL AND GAS LEASE SALE “I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, WOTUS is the most egregious federal overreach this nation has ever faced,” Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., told Fox News Digital in January. “Every farmer, rancher, or property owner who moves dirt will be harmed by this rule.” Shortly after the administration finalized the rule, Newhouse led a letter which nearly 200 Republicans cosigned urging Regan to rescind the rule. The letter noted that farmers, ranchers and other small business owners could face jail time and other legal punishments if they misinterpret the complicated rule. Farmers and agriculture industry groups also ripped the regulation, saying it represented a massive federal overreach that would make it “more difficult for farmers and ranchers to ensure food security.” And at least 27 states have filed federal lawsuits challenging the regulation and the administration’s authority to impose it. In one of the cases, a federal judge ruled in favor of Texas and Idaho, issuing an injunction to prevent the rule from being implemented in the two states. House Transportation Committee Chairman Sam Graves, R-Mo., and Transportation Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chairman David Rouzer, R-N.C., introduced the resolution on Feb. 2. The resolution utilizes the Congressional Review Act, a law dating back nearly three decades that allows Congress to revoke federal rules. “Americans continue to suffer under the economic crises caused by the disastrous policies of the Biden Administration,” Graves said on Wednesday. “From their anti-energy agenda, to the incredibly intrusive federal overreach of their proposed WOTUS rule, the Administration is doing everything in its power to impose more red tape and more costs on our businesses, farmers, builders, and communities.”  “The measure to overturn the Biden WOTUS rule, now approved by both the Senate and the House, is a clear message from Congress that enough is enough, and I appreciate [Sen. Shelley Moore Capito’s] leadership in ensuring that this resolution will now be sent to President Biden’s desk.”
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