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

ARTBA, as part of a coalition of 42 industry associations, expressed disappointment in the Senate’s failure to advance S. 1140, the “Federal Water Quality Protection Act.”  The ARTBA-supported legislation would have forced the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to withdraw its controversial “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule and develop a new proposal in consultation with the regulated community.

Unfortunately, the Senate November 2 was unable to reach the 60-vote threshold to end debate on the measure.  Subsequently, a group of eleven senators who chose not to support S. 1140 wrote EPA to ask for further clarification through the use of agency guidance in order to improve the WOTUS rule.

ARTBA, and its coalition allies, responded in November 18 letters sent to all members of the U.S. Senate and the House, warning the request for further guidance “creates the false impression that the critical scientific, technical, legal and policy defects in the rule can be remedies through agency guidance.  Agency guidance is not and cannot be the answer to addressing the rule’s major defects.”  The coalition urged Congress to continue to seek a legislative remedy which would withdraw the current rule, and instruct EPA to conduct a more meaningful dialogue with the groups that would be regulated by it.

ARTBA has long opposed the WOTUS 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.  It is also worth noting that the WOTUS rule is being temporarily blocked by the federal courts as a result of multiple lawsuits filed by ARTBA,   numerous other trade associations, and 31 states.  ARTBA will continue to keep you informed on any new developments.