Today, Congressman Frank Lucas (OK-03) released the following statement in response to the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Sackett v. EPA, which ruled in favor of the Sackett’s and America’s landowners:
“Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court is a win for Oklahoma’s farmers, ranchers, landowners, and all of rural America. Beginning with the Obama Administration and resurrected by President Biden, Washington Democrats have attempted to expand the role of the federal government under the Clean Water Act and erode the private property rights of Americans. Today’s unanimous decision by the Supreme Court to define wetlands regulated by the Clean Water Act takes a step towards clarity, regulatory certainty, and allowing landowners to continue to be their own responsible steward of their land,” said Congressman Lucas. “Now that the Court has ruled in conflict with the Administration’s rule, the Biden Administration must immediately rescind its burdensome proposed rule.”
In 2015, the Obama Administration’s WOTUS Rule significantly expanded the definition of “waters of the United States” and gave the federal government authority to regulate almost any waters, including streams, ditches, ponds, and creeks.
In 2020, the Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR), finalized by the Trump Administration, revised the definition of WOTUS and reversed this overreach, bringing back a balance between federal and state jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act.
Following his inauguration on January 20th, 2021, President Joe Biden signed Executive Order 13990 which directed federal agencies to review all existing regulations, orders, guidance documents, policies, and any other similar agency actions promulgated, issued, or adopted between January 20, 2017, and January 20, 2021, including the Navigable Waters Protection Rule.
Under the direction of Executive Order 13990, on June 9th, 2021, the EPA and the U.S. Department of the Army announced their intent to revise the definition of WOTUS. Lucas strongly opposed the Biden Administration’s Order.
On December 30, 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a final rule to again redefine WOTUS per the Clean Water Act.
On March 9, 2023, the U.S. House passed H.J. Res. 27, a joint resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) on the Biden Administration’s “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule. On March 29th, the U.S. Senate voted in favor of the resolution overturning the Biden Administration’s WOTUS rule by a vote of 53-43.
On April 6, 2023, President Biden vetoed the CRA resolution.
On April 12, 2023, Lucas applauded the preliminary injunction by U.S. District Court of North Dakota Judge Daniel Hovland which prohibited the enforcement, implementation, or application of the Biden Administration’s revised “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule in 24 states, including Oklahoma.
The United States Supreme Court’s ruling of Sackett v. EPA significantly reduces the scope of the Clean Water Act as interpreted by the federal government, ruling that the law only regulates wetlands when they are “as a practical matter indistinguishable from waters of the United States.”