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Ernst Calls for Rollback of Obama-era WOTUS Rule to Be Codified Into Law

The Senator introduced a bill to legislatively define the “Waters of the United States,” supporting the Trump Administration’s regulatory rollback of the Obama-era rule

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) introduced legislation to codify into law the Trump Administration’s rollback of the Obama-era “Waters of the United States,” or “WOTUS,” rule.

“The Obama-era WOTUS rule threatened Iowa’s farmers, manufacturers, and small businesses by giving the federal government authority to regulate water on 97 percent of land in our state,” said Senator Joni Ernst. “President Trump and his administration have taken tremendous steps to roll back this overreaching regulation and provide for more certainty with a new, clearer definition of WOTUS. But it’s the job of Congress to make a new, reasonable definition permanent, and that’s what this bill does—it ensures more predictability and workability for Iowans for years to come.”

In late 2018, the Trump Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a proposed rule to replace the Obama Administration’s 2015 WOTUS rule. The Define WOTUS Act would codify a definition of “Waters of the United States” and reassert Congressional responsibility to define this important term. The definition in the Define WOTUS Act also makes substantial improvements over various administrative attempts to define the term by clearly outlining what is, and is not, a federally regulated waterway.

Senator Ernst introduced the bill with Senator Mike Braun (R-IN).


Like EPA’s rule, the Define WOTUS Act provides much greater certainty to American farmers, workers, businesses and landowners. It gives landowners clear guidelines by which they can go out on their land and clearly determine what is regulated by the EPA and what is not. Because Congress is not restricted by various rulemaking statutes, the Define WOTUS Act provides a clearer definition with more obvious safeguards to protect against a runaway bureaucracy.