Senate WOTUS Vote Falls Short

By Dave Natzke  November 03, 2015 | 3:30 pm EST

Drovers CattleNetwor

The Senate voted 57-41, falling short of the necessary 60-vote threshold to advance legislation rolling back the U.S. Environmental Protection (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule, according to the National Association of State Ag Departments (NASDA).

The Senate was voting on to invoke cloture on legislation introduced by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wy.), the Federal Water Quality Protection Act (S. 1140). With the Barrasso legislation blocked, the Senate is likely to take up a Congressional Review Act (CRA) motion of disapproval of the WOTUS rule. The CRA motion does not require 60 votes to advance.

Thirty-one states are legally challenging the rule in multiple federal courts, noted Bob Gray, editor of the Northeast Dairy Farmers Cooperatives’ NDFC Newsletter.

In August of 2015, the expansive new rule defining “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act (CWA) went into effect. In response, a federal district court in North Dakota and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit have independently enjoined the rule, finding the states have proven a “substantial likelihood of success on the merits” or “fair chance of success.” In addition, the North Dakota court found the rule will cause “irreparable harm” to the states. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit granted a nationwide stay of the rule.

These court decisions highlight the fact there are serious problems with the rule and unfortunately, it will take years for the litigation to provide a conclusion, Gray said.