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Concerns Over WOTUS Reach EPW and Senate Oversight Committee
Army Corps May Have Had Limited Input

Documents released to the Committee on Environment & Public Works indicate that the Army Corps had objections to the final Waters of the United States rule. At the request of the Army, these documents are not publicly available.

According to a press release on the Committee on Environment & Public Works website, Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the committee, is investigating the Army Corps support of the EPA's Waters of the United States rule.

Inhofe requested and received documents not available to the public from Jo-Ellen Darcy, assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works. Inhofe sent a letter to Darcy on July 27 requesting confirmation of factual statements made in these documents to the committee.

"Thank you for your prompt response to my July 16, 2015 letter to you requesting certain documents, the existence of which only recently came to my attention, relating to the development of the revised definition of the term 'waters of the United States' (WOTUS)," wrote Inhofe. "[W]hile interspersed with staff recommendations and legal conclusions that I understand you wish to keep confidential and hidden from the American public, the facts in these documents support my conclusion, and the conclusion of the 30 states that have already filed lawsuits challenging the final WOTUS rule, that the rule is lacking factual, technical and legal support. I also was surprised to learn that, even thought the rule was purportedly a joint effort of EPA and the Corps, it appears that the Corps did not receive the draft final rule until EPA submitted it to interagency review on April 3, 2015, and according to Peabody's April 27, 2015 memorandum to you, 'the process followed to develop it greatly limited Corps input.'"

In light of the possibility that the Army Corps had objections to the final WOTUS rule, the National Association of Homebuilders has called on EPA to immediately withdraw the final regulations.

"It is bad enough that EPA would push through new regulations that would put millions of additional acres of private land under federal control, needlessly raise housing costs and add more regulatory burdens to small businesses," said NAHB Chairman Tom Woods, a home builder and developer from Blue Springs, Mo. "But it is absolutely scandalous that EPA disregarded the objections of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which expressed strong concerns that the rule was arbitrarily written, is legally indefensible and would be extremely difficult to implement. We call on EPA to act immediately to withdraw this rule and put an end to this federal land grab."

While the Army Corps documents are not available to the public, the letters that reference them are.

Read the July 6 letter from Sen. Inhofe to Darcy here

Read the July 27 letter from Sen. Inhofe to Darcy here.

Read the July 30 letter from the House Oversight Committee to Gina McCarthy, EPA administrator, here

The EPA was given until August 6 to respond.

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July 23, 2019, 10:32 pm PDT

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