March 30, 2023 |
Photo – Senator John Barrasso – Bigfoot99 file photo
Wyoming’s two senators and a bipartisan majority in the U.S. Senate have squared off against President Joe Biden after the White House resurrected an Obama-era protections of small streams, wetlands, and other waterways.
The senators called the Biden administration’s protections an environmental overreach that harms businesses, developers and farmers.
The senate on Wednesday used the Congressional Review Act to block recently enacted executive branch regulations. The vote was 53-to-43 with four Democrats and an Independent, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, joining Republicans in favor of the resolution.
“Wyoming doesn’t need the federal government telling us what to do with our water, farms, ranches, and land. But the Biden administration’s Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule puts Washington in control of everything from ponds to prairie potholes,” Senator John Barrasso said in a statement.
The vote is the latest round in a long-running fight over the definition of “waters of the United States”, which establishes the breadth of the Clean Water Act’s protections.
Senator Barrasso said the WOTUS rule was a terrible idea during the Obama Administration, and it hasn’t improved with age.
Senator Lummis said “an irrigation ditch is not navigable water and should not be under the jurisdiction of the federal government.”
Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia said, “The overreach, basically, it’s unreal.”
In early March, the Republican controlled House of Representatives approved the resolution 227-198.
In December, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers repealed the Trump Administration rule that scaled back protections enacted during the Obama era. Republicans have targeted it courts and in Congress. Republicans have won legal challenges in Texas and Idaho recently, dealing a blow to the Biden Administration’s case.
The U.S. Supreme Court also is considering a related case brought by an Idaho couple. The High Court heard arguments in Sackett v EPA in October and a decision is expected in the next few months.
Wednesday’s 53-43 vote included four Democrats and one independent joining Republicans pushing back on the Biden Administrations rule. In addition to Machin, the Democrats who crossed over include Jon Tester of Montana and both senators from Nevada, Jacky Rosen and Catherine Cortes Masto.