Tuesday the U.S. Senate conducted a procedural vote on whether to consider legislation introduced by Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly along with Wyoming Republican John Barrasso. The bipartisan Federal Water Quality Protect Act would require a rewrite of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, but it fell 3 short of the necessary 60 votes.
Prior to the vote Donnelly took to the Senate floor.
“If we’re going to ensure that our clean water protections are effective, we need to work together,” he said. “And we need to use the feedback from the people who work with the land every single day. Unfortunately the EPA’s Waters of the US rule was written without sufficient collaboration with some of the people who care about this rule the most, our farmers, our small business owners, our cities, our states. As a result the United States Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit has blocked the implantation of WOTUS nationwide.”
Earlier in the day Donnelly explained what his effort attempted to do was eliminate the ambiguity many farmers have seen from WOTUS.
“Our ag community is exactly right. It’s one of those things where you look at it and it’s whatever a person wants it to be, so that’s why we’re trying to tighten that up in our bill to say we want clean water. What we’re trying to do is put real regulations in place. If it affects navigable waters, if it affects interstate waters, if it affects the quality of those waters, then the EPA can regulate it. But if it’s a farm ditch or a farm pond it seems to make no sense as to why the EPA wants to be involved in that, other than overreach.”
Following the vote Donnelly said he was pleased with the bipartisan support in the Senate but disappointed there weren’t enough votes to move it forward.
“Whether you are a Republican or Democrat, a Hoosier farmer or small business owner in Indiana, or a bureaucrat at the EPA, we all want clean water,” he said. “Congress should act to clarify the coverage of the Clean Water Act, or the issue will continue to be litigated in the courts for years to come. I am willing to do this work, and I will continue to push for Congress to pass a constructive, permanent solution to the WOTUS rule.”
The bill had support of Indiana Farm Bureau, Simon Property Group, Indiana Corn Growers Association, Indiana Soybean Alliance, Waters Advocacy Coalition, the American Farm Bureau Federation, and a long list of other ag organizations.
Dairyherd.com reports that with the legislation blocked, the Senate is likely to take up a Congressional Review Act motion of disapproval of the WOTUS rule. Such a motion does not require 60 votes to advance.