A key procedural Senate vote is on the schedule Tuesday afternoon for the Federal Water Quality Protection Act. The act will effectively end the Clean Water Rule or “Waters of the US” rule by the Environmental Protection Agency. The cloture vote needs 60 votes to move on to full debate. Senate Republicans back the measure. However, they only control 54 Senate seats. The bill would require the administration to write a new rule. If that fails, the Senate is likely to move on to a resolution by Iowa Republican Joni Ernst that would kill the bill. That resolution only needs a simple majority of 512 votes to pass. However, both face a certain veto by the President.
Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly released the a statement on Monday that said, “I am pleased that the Senate will be considering the bipartisan legislation I introduced with a group of senators including Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). No one wants cleaner water or healthier land more than the families who live and work on the land, alongside these waters every day. This bipartisan legislation would ensure the WOTUS rule can be written in a way that makes sense for Hoosiers and all Americans. I am hopeful a bipartisan majority of my Senate colleagues will support this commonsense bipartisan bill.”
In the principles, the bill includes explicit protections for waters that most everyone agrees should be covered, like navigable waters, drinking water sources, and wetlands that filter out pollutants from our rivers and lakes. It also provides commonsense exemptions for isolated ponds and agricultural or roadside ditches—most of which EPA has indicated they never intended to cover.
The procedural steps include reviewing economic and small business impact and requiring consultation with stakeholders such as the states and the ag community, including soil and water conservation districts.
Finally, the bill gives a clear deadline, requiring the EPA and Army Corps to complete its rule by December 31, 2016.
The bill is supported by the Indiana Farm Bureau, Simon Property Group, Indiana Corn Growers Association, Indiana Soybean Alliance, Waters Advocacy Coalition, the American Farm Bureau Federation, and many other ag organizations.