The U.S. Senate on Feb. 5 approved an amendment sponsored by U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) that upholds the Trump administration’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR).

“The Navigable Waters Protection Rule is clear, commonsense policy that is in effect in 49 states,” said Sen. Capito, ranking member on the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee. “Unfortunately, President Biden is working quickly to undo this.”

The NWPR replaced the Obama-era Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule under the Clean Water Act, according to information provided by her office.

“Replacing this rule with something like the 2015 illegal WOTUS Rule would completely reframe all water policy and devastate farmers, manufacturers, and small business owners across the country — including in West Virginia,” Sen. Capito said. “We have had enough uncertainty. Let’s not create more.”

Specifically, the Senate on Friday approved Senate Amendment (S.Amdt.) 655 to Senate Concurrent Resolution 5, which sets forth both the congressional budget for the United States government for fiscal year 2021 and the appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal years 2022 through 2030. 

S.Amdt. 655 establishes “a deficit-neutral reserve fund relating to preserving the continued implementation of the consistent, clear, and functional categories and exclusions of jurisdictional waters” in the NWPR, according to the text of the resolution.

The NWPR established a definition that “unambiguously identifies” four categories of jurisdictional waters, provides exclusions for many water features, and defines terms in the regulatory text that have never been defined before, according to the senator’s information. It also protects the environment while respecting the cooperative federalism framework of the Clean Water Act by delineating where federal regulations apply, the information says, and gives states and local authorities more flexibility to determine how to best manage waters within their borders.

S.Amdt. 655 seeks to maintain all of these attributes of the NWPR by either limiting or prohibiting efforts to rescind or modify the rule.