WASHINGTON, D.C. – Early this morning, the U.S. Senate passed an amendment introduced by U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), the top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, that upholds the Trump administration’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR). The NWPR replaced the illegal Obama-era Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule under the Clean Water Act.

“The Navigable Waters Protection Rule is clear, commonsense policy that is in effect in 49 states. Unfortunately, President Biden is working quickly to undo this. 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. We have had enough uncertainty. Let’s not create more,” Senator Capito said.

Last week, Senator Capito joined 25 of her Republican colleagues to introduce a resolution that expresses the need for the U.S to keep this rule in place. Click here to watch Senator Capito’s floor remarks in support of her amendment.

In stark contrast to the deficiencies of the 2015 WOTUS rule, the NWPR established a definition that unambiguously identifies four simple categories of jurisdictional waters, provides clear exclusions for many water features—water features that traditionally have not been regulated at the federal level—and defines terms in the regulatory text that have never been defined before. The NWPR also protects the environment while respecting the cooperative federalism framework of the Clean Water Act. Specifically, it clearly delineates where federal regulations apply and gives states and local authorities more flexibility to determine how to best manage waters within their borders.

This amendment seeks to maintain all of these important attributes of the NWPR by either limiting or prohibiting efforts to rescind or modify the NWPR and establishing guiderails for some of the most important features of the NWPR, which are consistency and certainty in definitions of jurisdictional waters and exclusions under the Clean Water Act. This amendment, like the NWPR, aims to ensure the maintenance of a commonsense approach which protects the nation’s navigable waters while helping to sustain economic growth. 

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