Press Releases

Committee Republicans send letter to Biden Administration on WOTUS definition review, potential negative impact on small businesses

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Ranking Member Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-03), along with all Committee Republicans, sent a letter to Administrator Michael S. Regan of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jaime Pinkham requesting consideration of small businesses during their review of the definition of Waters of the United States (WOTUS).

Small business owners are working tirelessly to simply stay afloat and adjust to operating in the complex post-pandemic world. As the Biden Administration reviews the Clean Water Act and its definition of 'navigable waters of the United States,' Committee Republicans are respectfully urging Democrat decisionmakers to reject regulations that will impose additional burdens on small businesses as they work to recover, create jobs, and keep our economy moving.

Excerpts from the letter and the link to the full letter can be found below.

"Over the past forty plus years, few federal regulations have generated the amount of concern from, and potential negative impacts on, small businesses as those defining the reach of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the definition of WOTUS.  For many years, and now as Ranking Member of the Committee on Small Business, we have heard firsthand from countless farmers, ranchers, home builders, and other small business owners about the detrimental effect of a wide geographic scope of CWA jurisdiction and a broad definition of WOTUS.  As a result, we respectfully urge you to carefully consider the requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) and the post-pandemic situation of small businesses when reviewing the CWA and any potential revisions to its regulations.

“'Navigable waters' is defined in the Act as the 'waters of the United States, including territorial seas.' Once a body of water has been determined to be a water of the United States, the permitting requirements of the CWA are triggered; pollutants and dredged and fill materials cannot be discharged without a permit.  While the CWA is generally administered by the EPA, the EPA and the Corps jointly administer the Section 404 Program.  The definition of navigable waters was generally unhelpful in determining what constituted a water of the United States.  Since the Act’s enactment in 1972, regulations and litigation have placed additional and often contradictory notations on the scope of the waters subject to the CWA. For example, since 1972, the EPA and the Corps have defined 'waters of the United States' in their regulations, but often not identical definitions. The definitions remain paramount, as it has the ability to encompass wide swaths of the United States.  For example, when the 2015 proposed rule was released, a report by the Missouri Farm Bureau estimated that approximately 99 percent of the entire state of Missouri could be impacted by the rule. There are similar reports from almost every state.

"Without question, America needs the strong economic boost that small firms can provide now.  At this critical time in our nation’s history, we must ensure that they have the environment that allows them to grow, flourish, and support their workers and communities. Studies have shown that small business have been disproportionately affected across all industries during the pandemic, they need an environment that provides them with independence – and one that is free from burdensome regulations."

Full text of the letter can be found here.