Washington, D.C. (KINY) - U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), a member of the Senate Environment & Public Works (EPW) Committee and vice chair of the Senate Western Caucus, celebrated the Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling yesterday in Sackett vs. the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which reins in the Biden administration’s expansive interpretation of the federal government’s authority under the Clean Water Act to regulate “waters of the United States” (WOTUS).
Sen. Sullivan has long argued the expansive interpretations of WOTUS under rules promulgated by the Obama administration and the Biden administration usurped the constitutional authority of the states and threatened the rights of individual land owners.
“The Supreme Court delivered a stinging rebuke of the expansive and unconstitutional Obama-era interpretation of the “Waters of the United States,” which ran roughshod over the Clean Water Act, the rule of law, and the economic opportunity of Alaskans and all Americans,” said Sen. Sullivan. “The court’s unanimous ruling against the EPA ends much of the legal and regulatory limbo facing the Sackett family and millions of land owners across the country. This case was particularly important for a state like Alaska, home to sixty percent of the nation’s wetlands. With this ruling, the EPA should now return to the balanced and statutorily-based implementation of the Clean Water Act that we achieved during the Trump administration, through multiple court victories, and through multiple field hearings I chaired as a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee—including in Alaska. I will continue to fight against any attempts by out-of-control federal agencies to usurp the rights of Alaskans as we work to protect our cherished waterways without devastating our economy.”
Below is a timeline of Sen. Sullivan’s work on the WOTUS Rule.
- On April 6 and April 8, 2015, Sen. Sullivan chaired EPW Subcommittee field hearings in Anchorage and in Fairbanks on the impacts of the previously proposed WOTUS Rule on state and local governments and stakeholders.
- On April 30, 2015, Sen. Sullivan, along with Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Pat Roberts (R-Kas.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), introduced the bipartisan Federal Water Quality Protection Act (S. 1140) to direct the EPA and the Department of the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to issue a revised WOTUS Rule that protects navigable water from water pollution, while also protecting farmers, ranchers and private landowners.
- On May 19, 2015, Sen. Sullivan chaired a subcommittee legislative hearing on S.1140 The Federal Water Quality Protection Act. This bill would have withdrawn the WOTUS Rule and required the EPA to more appropriately define what bodies are “Waters of the United States.”
- On October 9, 2015, Sen. Sullivan issued a statement on the nationwide stay of the EPA’s previous WOTUS Rule.
- On September 30, 2015, Sen. Sullivan chaired a subcommittee hearing titled “Oversight of the Army Corps of Engineers’ Participation in the Development of the New Regulatory Definition of ‘Waters of the United States.’”
- On May 24, 2016 Sen. Sullivan chaired a subcommittee hearing titled “Erosion of Exemptions and Expansion of Federal Control –Implementation of the Definition of Waters of the United States.”
- On February 28, 2017, Sen. Sullivan attended a meeting at the White House where President Trump signed an executive order that began to roll back the EPA’s WOTUS Rule.
- On April 26, 2017, the EPW committee held an oversight hearing titled “A Review of the Technical, Scientific, and Legal Basis of the WOTUS Rule.” At the hearing, Chairman Barrasso called for the withdrawal of the fundamentally flawed rule. Witnesses testified that the 2015 WOTUS Rule is not supported by the Corps’ experience and expertise, scientific studies, or the law.
- On June 27, 2017, Senator Sullivan shared his views on the EPA’s efforts to withdraw and rewrite the overreaching WOTUS Rule.
- On September 27, 2017, Senator Sullivan, along with committee members Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Jerry Moran (R-Kas.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), sent a letter to the EPA and the Corps in support of the proposed withdrawal of the 2015 WOTUS Rule.
- On December 11, 2018, the EPA and the Corps proposed a revised definition of the WOTUS Rule.
- In January 2020, the EPA and the Corps issued a revised definition of the WOTUS Rule.
- In April 2022, Sen. Sullivan joined EPW Ranking Member Capito, 44 other senators and 154 House members in filing an amicus curiae brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the petitioners in the pending case Sackett v. EPA II.
- In July 2022, Sen. Sullivan was joined by all of his voting Republican colleagues and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) in passing his legislation to overturn the Biden administration’s onerous “National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Implementing Regulations Revisions.” The CRA was never taken up by the House of Representatives.
- On December 30, 2022, Senator Sullivan criticized the Biden administration for releasing its “final” WOTUS Rule, rather than waiting for the Supreme Court’s ruling in Sackett vs. EPA II, which will determine the scope of the agency’s authority under the Clean Water Act. The rule was published in the Federal Register on January 18, 2023 and took effect on March 20, 2023.
- In March 2023, Sen. Sullivan and 52 of his Senate colleagues passed EPW Ranking Member Capito’s Congressional Review Act (CRA) joint resolution of disapproval to overturn President Biden’s overreaching WOTUS Rule.