Washington, D.C. – Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today released the following statement after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its controversial Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule, under a new name, the “Clean Water Rule.”  The EPA has long claimed the rule is intended to define which bodies of water can be regulated by the Clean Water Act. But the rule is written so broadly it could allow the EPA to regulate virtually every body of water in the United States, including private and public lakes, ponds and streams.

Chairman Smith: “Today, the EPA rolled out its controversial Waters of the U.S. rule along with a new PR campaign attempting to rebrand the rule’s tarnished image. But cosmetic updates cannot hide the fact that it’s still a massive power grab of private property. America’s farmers, landowners and small businesses are right to be concerned. The rule expands the EPA’s jurisdiction, giving the agency the power to restrict Americans from making decisions about their own property. In addition, the agency inappropriately lobbied external organizations to provide supportive comments. This week, I along with Chairmen Chaffetz and Conaway sent a letter to the EPA demanding information about those efforts. The EPA needs to take a step back, truly engage with stakeholders and be open and transparent about its intentions.”

Smith has sent several letters to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy questioning the agency's rushed process and lack of transparency in pushing the WOTUS rule on the American people. More than 30 governors and state legislators across the country have also voiced their concerns about the threats to freedom and opportunity posed by this regulatory overreach. 

Earlier this month, Smith voted in favor of the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act, which requires the EPA to withdraw the rule and seek out adequate stakeholder input before proposing a new rule.

Last summer, the Science Committee investigated the EPA's creation of detailed maps showing waters and wetlands for all 50 states. The maps, which were created in 2013 shortly after EPA proposed its Waters of the US rule, had never been made public.

Although the EPA has claimed the maps were not used to regulate, the agency has failed to explain why the agency used taxpayer money to create them in the first place. Serious questions remain regarding the EPA's underlying motivations for creating such highly detailed maps.