House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO) and Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Ranking Member David Rouzer (R-NC) criticized the Biden administration for limiting input on planned water regulatory actions.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of the Army announced that a series of virtual roundtables with limited stakeholder participation will be held in the coming months to provide input on plans to reverse the Trump administration’s limitations on “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) jurisdiction.

The agencies’ untested selection process requires those who wish to comment at their respective regional roundtable to assemble a slate of no more than 15 diverse stakeholders. Then the agencies will choose which slates are permitted to present.

Ranking Member Graves:

“I have said from the very beginning that any changes to the Trump Administration’s navigable waters rule must be include robust stakeholder input and not be rushed. The approach being undertaken by the Army Corps and EPA is exactly the opposite. The only reason why the agencies would not undertake a more traditional format for input on their proposed rule change is to rush to finalize a predetermined political outcome. The process fails to ensure that all who want to participate can do so.

“When announcing planned action on WOTUS, the agencies assured the public they would carry out a full and transparent input process. This roundtable process is anything but that. The agencies should abandon this scheme and utilize a more open and traditional process. At the very least, they should have allowed more time for the public to consider nominations. Instead, the agencies only gave an informal three weeks’ heads up about their selective nomination process with no official notice in the Federal Register until just nine days before applications are due. This truncated process is unacceptable for a rulemaking of this magnitude with so many affected stakeholders.”

Subcommittee Ranking Member Rouzer:

“The Biden Administration has once again made it clear they have no desire to participate in an inclusive process when it comes to rewriting the definition of navigable waters under the WOTUS rule. By using a series of roundtables made up of pre-selected participants to obtain input on rewriting the definition of WOTUS, the EPA is abandoning their commitment to partake in an open and transparent process.

“Instead of pursuing their hand-picked, stakeholder approach, the Administration must allow the general public an adequate amount of time to voice their concerns regarding new and potentially excessive government regulations that will impact their everyday lives.”

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