Murkowski Speaks Against, Votes to Overturn EPA’s Controversial WOTUS Rule

Rule Will Create Confusion and Uncertainty, Result in Higher Costs and Greater Delays

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) spoke on the Senate floor this morning, urging her colleagues to vote with her to block the controversial and overreaching Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, which significantly expands the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ability to regulate Alaska’s land and water. The Senate later voted on S.J. Res 22, a resolution of disapproval that Senator Murkowski co-sponsored to nullify the WOTUS rule. The resolution passed in a vote of 53-44.

Prior to the vote, Senator Murkowski spoke of the harmful impacts the WOTUS rule would have on Alaska:

“I’m not certain that the agencies will try to stop every project in the state. That’s too much, even for them. But I recognize they could use this rule to stop any project they want – whenever they want, and for as long as they want. Maybe not every project will be affected. But any project could be targeted. We know these agencies have cast an extremely wide net. We know that regulatory decisions are not always fair or impartial or even logical within this Administration. And we know that almost everything in Alaska is near water, wetlands, or permafrost. Add it all up, and almost every project in Alaska could suddenly be subject to federal permitting under the Clean Water Act. That, in turn, means that most projects in our State will wind up costing more, taking longer, or being indefinitely delayed.”

(Click image to watch video.)

Murkowski also summarized her opposition to WOTUS:   

“I strongly oppose WOTUS because of the uncertainty it will create, the delays it will deliver, and the costs it will impose…because Alaska is the only state that has permafrost, and we still have no idea whether, or under what circumstances, those areas will be regulated…because this rule could further dampen our efforts to begin new resource extraction projects, which we depend on for a majority of our state’s budget. And I oppose the WOTUS rule because it is yet another regulatory burden for Alaskans – on top of all the others, from the Interior Department’s anti-energy decisions to EPA’s quest for project veto authority before, during, and after the permitting process.” 


(Click image to watch video.)

Watch Senator Murkowski’s entire floor speech by clicking here.

Background: Yesterday, Senator Murkowski voted to advance S. 1140, the Federal Water Quality Protection Act, legislation she co-sponsored that would revoke WOTUS and require the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to revise the regulation. The bill failed to advance by a vote of 57-41.

As Chairman of the Interior-Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Murkowski included a provision in the Fiscal Year 2016 funding bill that would prohibit the EPA from using funds to implement the burdensome WOTUS rule.

EPA is currently under an injunction from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals that temporarily prevents the agency from implementing the WOTUS rule. Murkowski noted while she welcomed the courts’ actions so far, it was inappropriate for Congress to “sit back” and wait months or even years for a final legal decision, given that it is possible to protect Alaskans right now through a legislative nullification of the rule.