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Agencies Send WOTUS Rule to White House as House Panel Votes for Its Withdrawal

May 11, 2015

The Obama administration’s controversial Waters of the U.S. rule continued to draw opposition on Capitol Hill in April, even as the Environmental Protection Agency continued to push the regulatory measure forward.

Early in the month, the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers submitted their final proposed WOTUS rule to the White House Office of Management and Budget. The step is typically one of the last before a regulation is officially issued. But nine days later, a key House committee approved legislation directing the agencies to withdraw the regulation and substantially revise it.

After it was published in draft form last year, the WOTUS rule was roundly criticized by agriculture groups for greatly expanding the waters subject to regulation under the federal Clean Water Act. NMPF recommended a series of changes to the draft regulation and urged the agencies to either include National Milk’s recommendations in the final rule, or withdraw the draft and rewrite it.

Officially, the Office of Management and Budget has 90 days after it receives a draft from an agency to issue a final regulation. In practice, however, the process can be much quicker or much slower, depending on a myriad of factors. Whenever OMB acts on the WOTUS rule, NMPF will review the result and assess the implications for the dairy industry.

In the meantime, on Capitol Hill, the House is expected take up legislation this month directing EPA and the Corps to withdraw the rule. Known as the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act, the legislation was approved, 36 – 22, by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on April 15. In addition to telling the agencies to withdraw the rule, the bill offers a laundry list of parameters for reissuing the regulation.

Similar legislation was introduced in the Senate.