Despite bipartisan support from Congress, President Biden vetoed congressional action of the “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule, which governs what lands are subject to the Clean Waters Act. The veto comes as affected industries and environmental groups await the outcome of Sackett v. EPA, a challenge to the WOTUS definition before the United States Supreme Court.
President Biden cited confusion as the need to veto the resolution.
“Farmers would be left wondering whether artificially irrigated areas remain excluded or not,″ President Biden said. “Construction crews would be left wondering whether their waterfilled gravel pits remain excluded or not. The resolution would also negatively affect tens of millions of United States households that depend on healthy wetlands and streams.″
Industry groups were dismayed by the veto.
“The WOTUS definition has long been considered problematic,” said Nick Erickson, senior director of housing policy for Housing First Minnesota. “Given the multitude of ongoing legal challenges to the rule, a pending Supreme Court decision and congressional support for providing needed clarity, it is unfortunate that President Biden vetoed action that would have brought finality to this discussion.”
With the pending decision in Sackett v. EPA, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) asked the EPA to delay the implementation of the new WOTUS rule until after the nation’s top court issues its decision.
“To put an end to this regulatory morass, the administration needs to delay implementing this onerous regulation until a judgment is rendered and go back to the drawing board to draft a new, practical and durable WOTUS rule,” said Alicia Huey, chair of NAHB.
A decision is expected soon in Sacket v. EPA.