Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today released the following statement after the Supreme Court issued a ruling in Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency:
“Oklahomans want clean, safe water. But President Biden’s tried to use the Waters of the United States rule to control almost every inch of Oklahoma so farmers, ranchers, and developers will have to play ‘Mother, May I?’ for months or years with Washington, DC, before they can operate on their own land. The Supreme Court today affirmed that a small stream of runoff water is not navigable water, and that we can protect our water without giving near total control of our land to the Washington bureaucracy.”
In 2015, the Obama Administration finalized a rule that expanded the definition of WOTUS, creating confusion and burdensome red tape, especially for Oklahoma’s agriculture, construction, and energy industries. The Trump Administration released a proposed rule, the Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR), to replace the 2015 WOTUS rule with a new one that provided much-needed predictability and certainty for farmers by establishing clear and reasonable definitions of what qualifies as a “Waters of the United States.” The NWPR was finalized in 2020.
On day one of his Administration, President Biden signed an executive order to begin the process of rolling back the previous Administration’s NWPR. In December 2022, the EPA issued a new rule repealing the NWPR and changing the definition of WOTUS in a way that will expand federal regulatory authority.
Lankford and his colleagues immediately responded by sending a letter with the entire Senate Republican Conference to urge the EPA and the US Army Corps of Engineers to suspend the pending rulemaking to redefine the scope of waters protected under the Clean Water Act (CWA), specifically “Waters of the United States,” until the US Supreme Court completes its consideration of Sackett.
Lankford joined Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and all of their Senate Republican colleagues in introducing the formal challenge earlier this year.