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Thornberry introduces Waters of the U.S. bill

Washington, March 1, 2017 | Jon Corley (202-225-3706)

U.S. Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon) applauded the executive order signed by President Trump to rewrite the Obama-era regulation related to “Waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) and has introduced legislation to solve the problem permanently. Thornberry’s bill, the “Federal Regulatory Certainty for Water Act,” H.R. 1261, clarifies the definition of “navigable waters” in the Clean Water Act (CWA) as waters that are navigable-in-fact or are permanently flowing bodies of water that physically connect to navigable waters.

“This week, the President signed an executive order to begin reversing the WOTUS rule as it was finalized by the Obama administration. We should also clarify the definition of ‘navigable waters’ to prevent future administrations from using the CWA in ways that are far beyond its intended scope,” Thornberry said. 

For decades, the courts and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have grappled over the scope of the CWA, which simply defines “navigable waters” as “the waters of the United States, including the territorial seas.” In May 2015, the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers finalized the WOTUS rule, which could allow the regulation of almost any wet area on private land that has some arbitrary connection to a navigable body of water. 

“Folks who live and work in our part of Texas, especially the farmers and ranchers, understand the importance of clean water and work hard to be good stewards of the land. This bill will help protect the personal property and water rights that are so fundamental to the American way of life, a family’s business, and many people’s livelihoods,” Thornberry said.

Since 2013, Thornberry has introduced and supported several bills that offered simple, commonsense ways to protect private landowners from regulatory overreach by the EPA and the Corps.