WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee and vice chair of the Senate Western Caucus, yesterday celebrated the Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling in Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency(EPA), which curbs the Biden administration’s expansive interpretation of the authority of the federal government under the Clean Water Act to regulate the “waters of the United States” (WOTUS). Senator Sullivan has long argued that expansive interpretations of WOTUS under rules enacted by the Obama administration and the Biden administration usurped the constitutional authority of states and threatened the rights of individual landowners.
“The Supreme Court issued a stinging indictment of the Obama-era expansive and unconstitutional interpretation of “America’s Waters,” which trampled on the Clean Water Actthe rule of law and economic opportunity for Alaskans and all Americans.”said Senator Sullivan. “The court’s unanimous ruling against the EPA ends much of the legal and regulatory limbo facing the Sackett family and millions of landowners across the country. This case was particularly important for a state like Alaska, home to sixty percent of the nation’s wetlands. With this ruling, EPA should now return to the balanced and legally based implementation of theClean Water Actthat we accomplished during the Trump administration, through multiple court victories, and through multiple field hearings that I chaired as a member of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, including in Alaska. I will continue to fight any attempt by out-of-control federal agencies to usurp the rights of Alaskans as we work to protect our precious waterways without devastating our economy.”
Below is a timeline of Senator Sullivan’s work on the WOTUS Rule.
- On April 6 and 8, 2015, Senator Sullivan chaired the EPW Subcommittee field hearings in Anchorage and Fairbanks on the impacts of the previously proposed WOTUS Rule on state and local governments and stakeholders.
- On April 30, 2015, Senator Sullivan, joined by Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Heidi Heitkamp (DN.D.) , Pat Roberts (R-Kas.) and Joe Manchin (DW.Va.), introduced the bipartisan Federal Law for the Protection of Water Quality (S. 1140) to direct EPA and the Department of the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to issue a revised WOTUS Rule that protects navigable water from water pollution while protecting farmers, ranchers, and private owners.
- On May 19, 2015, Senator Sullivan chaired a legislative subcommittee hearing on S.1140 The Federal Law for the Protection of Water Quality. This bill would have removed the WOTUS Rule and required EPA to more appropriately define which bodies are “Waters of the United States.”
- On October 9, 2015, Senator Sullivan issued a statement regarding the nationwide suspension of EPA’s previous WOTUS Rule.
- On September 30, 2015, Senator Sullivan chaired a subcommittee hearing titled “Oversight of Army Corps of Engineers Involvement in the Development of the New Regulatory Definition of ‘Waters of the United States’.”
- On May 24, 2016, Senator Sullivan chaired a subcommittee hearing titled “Erosion of Exemptions and Expansion of Federal Control – Implementation of the Definition of United States Waters”.
- On February 28, 2017, Senator Sullivan attended a meeting at the White House where President Trump signed an executive order that began to reverse the EPA’s WOTUS rule.
- On April 26, 2017, the EPW committee held an oversight hearing titled “A Review of the Technical, Scientific, and Legal Basis for the WOTUS Rule.” At the hearing, President Barrasso called for the withdrawal of the fundamentally flawed rule. Witnesses testified that the 2015 WOTUS Rule is not supported by Corps experience and knowledge, scientific studies, or the law.
- On June 27, 2017, Senator Sullivan shared his views on EPA’s efforts to withdraw and rewrite the overreaching WOTUS Rule.
- On September 27, 2017, Senator Sullivan, joined by committee members Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Shelley Moore Capito (RW.Va.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Jerry Moran (R-Kas.), Mike Rounds (RS.D.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Richard Shelby (R -Ala.), sent a letter to EPA and the Corps in support of the proposed withdrawal of the 2015 WOTUS Rule.
- On December 11, 2018, EPA and the Corps proposed a revised definition of the WOTUS Rule.
- In January 2020, the EPA and the Corps issued a revised definition of the WOTUS Rule.
- In April 2022, Senator Sullivan joined Ranking EPW Member Capito, 44 other Senators, and 154 House members in filing an amicus brief with the US Supreme Court in support of the petitioners in the pending case Sackett v. EPA II.
- In July 2022, Senator Sullivan joined all of his fellow voting Republicans and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) in passing his legislation to strike down the onerous “Revisions to the Implementing Regulations of the National Environmental Policy Act.” (NEPA)” of the Biden administration. The CRA was never taken over by the House of Representatives.
- On December 30, 2022, Senator Sullivan criticized the Biden administration for publishing its “final” WOTUS Rule, instead of waiting for the Supreme Court’s ruling inSackett v. EPA IIwhich will determine the scope of the authority of the agency underClean Water Act. The rule was published in the Federal Register on January 18, 2023, and became effective on March 20, 2023.
- In March 2023, Senator Sullivan and 52 of his Senate colleagues approved the EPW Capito Ranking Member qualification.Congressional Revision Act(CRA) Joint Disapproval Resolution to strike down President Biden’s WOTUS rule.
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