WASHINGTON – Two Arkansas Senators are supporting changes to the contentious issue of regulating U.S. waterways.
Sen. John Boozman and Sen. Tom Cotton, along with several other Senate Republicans, are co-sponsoring a bill to codify the changes made by former President Donald Trump’s administration to the Navigable Waters Protection Rule.
This rule defines four categories of waters: Territorial seas and traditional navigable waters; tributaries of such waters; certain lakes, ponds, and impoundments of jurisdictional waters; and wetlands adjacent to other jurisdictional waters.
The rule put in place by the Trump administration in 2020 narrowed what types of wetlands and waterways trigger federal Clean Water Act oversight, meaning developers no longer needed federal permits for work that affects some types of waterways.
The Biden administration now seeks to make its own changes to the navigable waters rule. The Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Army announced their intent to revise the definition of the waters of the U.S. in June. EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan said that the rules put in place in 2020 were “leading to significant environmental degradation.”
Boozman said that doing away with the 2020 rules could give the federal government authority to control “virtually every ditch, pond and puddle on private land in Arkansas and nationwide.
The bill is available for viewing online. Its stated purpose is “to enact the definition of ‘waters of the United States’ into law, and for other purposes.”
“Our bill will protect clean water and America’s agriculture producers by letting the Navigable Water Protection Rule stand,” Cotton said.