Murkowski Hosts EPA, Army Corps Officials and Alaska Stakeholders at WOTUS Roundtable

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) recently hosted Radhika Fox, the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Jamie Pinkham, the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, for a roundtable discussion on the agencies’ recently proposed “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule.

The discussion allowed Murkowski and a range of state officials, led by Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Jason Brune, and industry stakeholders to emphasize the need for practical and locally-tailored WOTUS definition and regulation that will not delay or raise costs for economic development projects, and that recognizes the unique characteristics in Alaska—which the joint rule proposed late last year falls far short of.



After the roundtable, Murkowski released the following statement:

“The joint rule proposed last November is the third on WOTUS we have seen in the past 10 years. This decade-long game of regulatory ping pong has failed to provide the clarity and certainty that states like Alaska need and depend on from the executive branch. Meanwhile, the latest rule is the most expansive yet, would have its own consequences for Alaska, and has left almost no one satisfied.

“For Alaska stakeholders, this roundtable was an opportunity to share the frustrations and challenges that ambiguity surrounding WOTUS has caused the state, communities, developers, and industry over the past decade, especially as permitting timelines and costs have increased and projects stalled. It also gave a voice to our state agencies, who share my concerns with federal overreach and agree that last year’s proposed rule takes us in the wrong direction.

“While I have called on the agencies to stop their work on WOTUS until after the Supreme Court rules on the Sackett case, they have not agreed to do so, and I did not want to lose the opportunity to have their leadership hear directly from Alaskans about how their latest proposal would impact us. EPA and the Army Corps bear responsibility for making sure that WOTUS works for Alaska, our economy, and the people who live here.

“I thank Ms. Fox and Mr. Pinkham for traveling to Alaska for a very candid conversation and hope what they have heard and seen while here will be reflected in their agencies’ actions going forward. I also appreciated the chance to discuss the historic investments we made in water and wastewater infrastructure through our bipartisan infrastructure bill, and how that will benefit communities across our state over the next few years.”


WOTUS has a significant impact on Alaska, which has more than 12,000 rivers, three million lakes, and close to 180 million acres of wetlands. That’s more than the rest of the country combined and an area larger than all of Texas. In the Lower 48, about five percent of the lands in a typical state are considered wetlands, but in Alaska, that number is 43 percent.

Senator Murkowski has worked for years to try to prevent federal agencies from massively expanding the definition of the WOTUS. As chairman of the Senate Interior-Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, Murkowski included language in her funding bills for FY 2016 and FY 2017 blocking implementation of the Obama administration’s WOTUS rule.

In August 2015, Murkowski and U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) hosted a joint Senate oversight hearing in Wasilla, Alaska to examine the effect of increased federal mitigation requirements and regulations on economic development on federal, state, and private lands.

In May 2018, Murkowski asked previous EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt about the agency’s plans to re-examine the WOTUS rule, urging it be updated with a more common-sense proposal.

In December 2018, Murkowski attended and spoke at an event at EPA headquarters announcing the proposed Navigable Waters Protection Rule.

In January 2020, Murkowski welcomed the news that EPA and the Army Corps had finalized the Navigable Waters Protection Rule.

In February 2022, Murkowski joined all of her Republican Senate colleagues in calling on EPA and the Army Corps to halt their work on a new WOTUS rule until after the Supreme Court has ruled on Sackett v. EPA.

For more information on WOTUS, click here.

For more information on the bipartisan infrastructure bill, click here.