Taking a Stand for Rural America
March 16, 2023
Agriculture producers in Nebraska have earned their standing as world leaders in agriculture through their excellence and tradition of respecting the natural resources with which our state is blessed. No one cares more about the land and water of our state than the farmers and ranchers whose livelihoods depend on careful management of these resources.
Unfortunately, top-down overreach from Washington – such as the President Biden's "30 by 30" Executive Order, which created an arbitrary target of setting aside at least 30 percent of U.S. land and water for public conservation by 2030 – demonstrates how out of touch the White House is with so many Americans. For generations, Third District communities, small businesses, agriculture operations, and landowners have relied on sustainable stewardship to preserve our state's agriculture-driven lifestyle and economy. Across the nation, local communities know best the needs and characteristics of their resources, and it is imperative we continue to fight for their rights amid unprecedented encroachment from Washington bureaucrats.
Within our federal system of checks and balances Congress has a tool to rein in the executive branch called the Congressional Review Act (CRA). The CRA allows Congress to nullify, through votes in both the House and Senate, regulations proposed by the executive branch, even if a regulation has already taken effect.
Previously, I led the effort in the House to use the CRA to block the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. The Obama administration's WOTUS rule had grossly enlarged EPA authority over land and water through a redefinition of federal jurisdiction of navigable waterways in the 1972 Clean Water Act (CWA). Unfortunately, after my resolution easily passed both the House and Senate, it was vetoed by President Obama.
This goes to show how many fights in Washington are fought over many years. In the case of Sackett v. EPA, WOTUS has been the subject of a fifteen-year legal battle after EPA claimed the CWA's redefinition of navigable waterways applied to the Sackett family's land in Idaho.
Much to the relief of farmers and ranchers across the country, in December 2018, President Trump's EPA announced a replacement rule, which both honored relevant court decisions and included a more appropriate definition of navigable waterways. However, President Biden undid this progress by proposing a new WOTUS rule.
The Supreme Court is now expected to rule on Sacket v. EPA to clarify among the various ways federal courts have interpreted the CWA. In 2022, I joined in sending the court an amicus brief to express my strong support for limiting EPA's overreaching definition of WOTUS and for policies that protect the environment while also ensuring that states retain their traditional role as the primary regulators of land and water resources.
This week, with my support, the House passed H.J.Res. 27, a CRA resolution to formally disapprove of the Biden administration's ongoing assault on rural America. WOTUS is an unconstitutional enlargement of federal authority and threatens the rights of farmers and ranchers across the country to manage even the ditches and puddles on their property.
I have great confidence in our ability to develop workable solutions to protect our planet for future generations; however, the answer is not in handing more power to Washington bureaucrats far removed from the needs of most Americans. Failing to stop the administration's overreaching WOTUS rule would devastate communities, hardworking families, and small business owners across Nebraska – which will inevitably lead to even higher costs for consumers, especially at a time we cannot afford them.