06.28.17

Senators Isakson, Perdue Praise Rollback Of Government Takeover Of Waterways

Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw ‘Waters of the United States’ rule

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and David Perdue (R-GA) praised Tuesday’s announcement by the Trump administration that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will take action to begin rolling back an ill-conceived regulation from the Obama administration known as “Waters of the United States.”

“This is great news for Georgia’s farmers and our entire agriculture industry who are eager to see the rights returned to our states and local communities to oversee our land and waterways,” said Senator Isakson. “Federal government bureaucrats should not have the ability to control our streams, creeks, wetlands, ponds and ditches, and I applaud the administration for the steps they are taking to dismantle this harmful, overreaching rule.”

“This is a huge victory for our farmers, businesses, ranchers, and landowners,” said Senator Perdue. “We all finally have a President who is taking our concerns seriously. This Obama-era rule was a blatant overreach from the federal government. Immediately after the rule was announced, Georgians pleaded with the government to not overregulate their land. I worked directly with our Georgia farmers to raise the issue with the federal government. This is just one example of how President Trump and a Republican-led Congress are reversing the onerous regulations that have sucked the life out of our free-enterprise system.”

The EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced this action on Tuesday, and it will be implemented in accordance with Supreme Court decisions, agency guidance and longstanding practice.

The previous administration’s overreaching rule, Senators Isakson and Perdue argued, allowed the federal government to regulate nearly all private and state waters in the United States, including thousands of streams, creeks, wetlands, ponds and ditches.

In February, President Trump signed an order to require the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency to review and reconsider the “Waters of the United States” rule. Tuesday’s action would, when finalized, provide certainty in the interim, pending a second rulemaking in which the agencies will engage in a substantive re-evaluation of the definition of “Waters of the United States.”

Georgia has previously taken steps to challenge the ruling in federal court. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled in favor of Georgia and 17 states in 2015, granting a nationwide stay of the regulation. In addition, Georgia also challenged the same regulation in a case brought in the U.S. District for the Southern District of Georgia that has been stayed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

Senators Isakson and Perdue previously co-sponsored a resolution that would have overturned the rule, sending a message to the Obama administration that they failed to address concerns raised by farmers, ranchers, manufacturers and small businesses in Georgia and across the country. In 2016, Isakson and Perdue voted with a majority of Congress to overturn the harmful rule, but it was vetoed by President Obama.

Senators Isakson and Perdue also co-sponsored the Federal Water Quality Protection Act, S.1140, in 2015. The legislation would have required the secretary of the Army and the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to propose a regulation revising the definition of the term “Waters of the United States,” to define clear limits and to take into account an economic analysis of the rule. 

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