Senators Advocate for Clear Federal Regulation for Farmers, Small Business Owners

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) this week joined Republican members of the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee in introducing legislation (S.2567) to codify the 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR), which has provided clarity for farmers and businesses overly burdened by past administrations’ regulations related to the Clean Water Act.

The Biden administration has promised to replace NWPR with a new, more burdensome policy.

“The Trump Administration’s Navigable Waters Protection rule recognizes state control over local waters while still maintaining important protections for our environment,” Wicker said.   “Codifying this rule would ensure federal regulations are not overly burdensome for Mississippi’s farmers and small business owners.  I am glad to stand with my colleagues in this effort.”

“There is no good reason for the Biden administration to replace the 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Rule other than to force centralized federal authority and regulatory power over all waters—groundwater, ditches, storm waters, and more.  Our farmers, businesses, and property owners thrive best on responsible oversight and certainty, which the current rule provides and which is why it should be codified,” Hyde-Smith said.

Under the Biden Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are expected to replace the NWPR with a new rule that would go even further than the overly burdensome Obama-era Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rule.  If the NWPR is replaced, EPA could go as far as to regulate ditches on private lands and converted croplands, which could ultimately inflict severe harm on the agriculture, construction, home building, forestry, mining, and energy sectors of the economy.

In cosponsoring the measure, Wicker and Hyde-Smith joined EPW Committee Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Committee members Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

In addition, these Senators also cosponsored the legislation:  John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.).


In 2015, the Obama administration finalized a rule that expanded the definition of the Waters of the United States, creating confusion and burdensome red tape for agriculture, businesses, and other industries across the country.

The Trump administration proposed replacing the Obama administration’s 2015 WOTUS rule with a new rule that provided much-needed predictability and certainty for farmers by establishing clear and reasonable definitions of what qualifies as a “water of the United States.” 

The new NWPR was finalized last year, establishing a definition for a “water of the United States” 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.  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.

On the first day of his administration, President Biden signed an executive order that would roll back the Trump administration’s actions of rescinding Obama’s WOTUS rule and finalizing the NWPR. In January, Wicker, Hyde-Smith, and their Senate colleagues introduced a resolution that expresses the need for the U.S. Senate to uphold the NWPR.

Read the full bill here.