Murkowski Blocks “Waters of the U.S.” Rule Through Interior Bill

Chairman Drafts Interior Spending Provision to Block “Showstopper” Regulation

Senator Lisa Murkowski, Chairman of the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, today utilized that position to block the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule for the next fiscal year in legislation approved by the Subcommittee.  The WOTUS rule, formally announced in May, greatly expands the amount of area in Alaska that will require federal permits for development.

The rule includes provisions that give EPA control over areas within 4,000 feet of a jurisdictional water – using a dubious methodology that fails to take into account the reality on the ground for states like Alaska.  The rule poses additional obstacles to responsible economic development and private construction in Interior areas like Fairbanks and coastal areas like Juneau.  At the same time, it will significantly hike costs and delay renewable hydropower projects in Southeast Alaska.

“This expansion of the definition of ‘WOTUS’ is the latest and costliest example of mission creep from this administration, and it is one of the highest concerns for Alaskans statewide right now.  I thank my Interior Subcommittee colleagues for working with me to halt this in its tracks before it harms the Alaskan economy further,” said Murkowski.  “Whether you are a developer in Fairbanks simply trying to build a store three quarters of a mile away from the Chena River, the State of Alaska seeking to repair the Dalton Highway, or a hydrokinetic engineer in the Alaska panhandle trying to supplement our power grid to lower energy prices, the EPA’s new rule will hold you back and add to the price tag.  My language in today’s bill will block any EPA funds from implementing this show stopper from moving forward.”

(Murkowski questions EPA Administrator on wisdom, methodology of WOTUS rule, 4/14 – Click image to view.)

Background: Senator Lisa Murkowski has been deeply critical of the WOTUS expansion since it was in the proposal stage.  She shared her concerns directly with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy last April (above), calling it a “show stopper” for Alaska.  Last month, with her Energy & Water Appropriations Subcommittee colleagues, she explained Alaskans’ “real fear” about expanding EPA’s reach and rebuked the EPA for spending more time on messaging the rule prior to its roll-out in May than it did listening to the real-world concerns of Alaskans and Americans threatened by this far-reaching rule.