Murkowski: WOTUS Rule Represents Unprecedented Expansion of Federal Authority

Senator Lisa Murkowski today criticized the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for overreaching in its efforts to expand the list of waterways covered by the Clean Water Act. Murkowski said the EPA’s “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule would greatly expand the amount of area in Alaska that will require federal permits for development – immediately creating one more roadblock to responsible construction and other productive activities.

“The EPA’s expansion of the definition of “Waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act appears to threaten economic activities across the country – and nowhere is the impact more likely than in Alaska,” Murkowski said. “With half of all of the wetlands in the United States, Alaska is directly in the sights of the federal bureaucrats back in Washington, DC, who will now be able to make decisions from more than 4,000 miles away about how we develop almost any part of our state.”

The new rule, which the EPA released Wednesday morning, would require a federal permit for any activity that results in a discharge into any body of water covered by the new definition of “waters of the United States,” including small streams and wetlands. Murkowski said the rule is so broad that it could also apply to areas of permafrost that become wetlands during the short summer months, or any other patch of land statewide where water could potentially wash across during the year. She also criticized the EPA for paying lip service to the concerns of state officials and local stakeholders without offering any real relief as it issued the final rule.

“EPA officials have been on a public relations campaign as of late to generate support for their rule,” added Murkowski. “I wish the administration had instead spent their time and focus listening to Alaskans and others across the country about the serious issues this rule poses, and made changes to bring certainty to the permitting process."

Murkowski, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, has opposed the EPA’s WOTUS rule since it was proposed in March of last year.   Click here to listen to Senator Murkowski sharing Alaskans’ concerns about WOTUS in the Appropriations Committee last week.