The Senate is scheduled to take a vote this week on a bill that would repeal the Waters of the U.S. regulation.
The bill, titled the "Federal Water Quality Protection Act" S. 1140, directs managing agencies the U.S. EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to repeal WOTUS in favor of a regulation that "protects traditional navigable water and wetlands from water pollution, while also protecting farmers, ranchers and private landowners," according to bill sponsor Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo.
Additional sponsors include Sens. Joe Donnelley, D-Ind., Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Joe Manchin, D-W.V.
"By striking the right balance, we'll restore Washington's attention to the country's traditional waterways, protecting these cherished natural resources," Barrasso said in a press statement last week. "At the same time, we'll give certainty to farmers, ranchers and small-business owners that they can use their property reasonably without fear of constant Washington intervention.
The WOTUS regulation was finalized on Aug. 28 in most states. Only 13 states, which filed for and were granted preliminary injunction against the rule – North Dakota, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, South Dakota, Wyoming and New Mexico – are temporarily exempt.
Many ag groups in opposition to the rule say it expands federal jurisdiction to include upstream waters and intermittent and ephemeral streams such as the kind farmers use for drainage and irrigation. It also encompasses lands adjacent to such waters, according to the National Pork Producers Council.
NPPC notes that opponents of S. 1140 are expected to filibuster the bill, so proponents will need 60 votes in favor of cutting off debate and moving to a vote on the legislation. If the cloture vote fails, the Senate is expected to take up a resolution of disapproval of the WOTUS rule.