By Nick Goldstein, vice president of regulatory affairs & assistant general counsel, ARTBA

The Senate took two actions recently aimed at blocking the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) controversial “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule. ARTBA opposes the rule because it would expand wetlands jurisdiction to include roadside ditches and other bodies of water, leading to increased delays and permitting burdens for transportation improvements.

On Nov. 2, the Senate attempted to proceed with S. 1140, the “Federal Water Quality Protection Act.”  The ARTBA-supported legislation would have forced EPA to withdraw the WOTUS rule and develop a new rule in close consultation with the regulated community.  Unfortunately, the 57-41 vote was shy of the 60-vote threshold needed to end debate on the measure.

On Nov. 4, the upper chamber by 53-44 passed a motion to block the WOTSUS rule under the Congressional Review Act (CRA).  This action, which only required a simple majority to pass, would prevent the regulation from taking effect.  However, the CRA motion requires – and is highly unlikely to get – the approval of the president. The Obama Administration has repeatedly indicated its support for the WOTUS rule.

The WOTUS rule is being temporarily blocked by the federal courts as the result of multiple lawsuits filed by ARTBA and numerous other trade associations, as well as 31 states.  ARTBA will continue to keep the transportation community apprised of further developments on this issue.

Please contact ARTBA Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Nick Goldstein with any questions.

Read ARTBA’s November 2 letter of support for S. 1140.