Montana Governor Gianforte Blasts WOTUS Proposal

HELENA, MT (STL.News) Governor Greg Gianforte this week called on the Biden administration to reconsider its proposed Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, citing its harmful impact on Montanans, federal overreach, vagueness, and ambiguity.

In public comment to officials with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Gov. Gianforte blasted the Biden administration’s proposed WOTUS rule.

“If the agencies adopt the Proposed Rule, it is the citizenry that will foot the bill for the agencies’ equivocation,” Gov. Gianforte warned of the costs and burdens the proposed WOTUS rule would impose on Montanans.  “No Montanan, and indeed, no American, should be required to hire a consultant simply to advise whether their water is jurisdictional, and then worry whether the consultant correctly interpreted the subjective regulations.  Montanans should not be precluded from pursuing their livelihoods because they cannot afford to obtain a permit in association with the pothole in the middle of their dryland farm.”

Pursuant to the Clean Water Act, the state has authority over certain intrastate and non-navigable waters.  The Montana Department of Environmental Quality and the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation implement water quality and appropriation statutes.  Regarding the proposed WOTUS rule and its impact on state sovereignty, Gov. Gianforte wrote,  “the Proposed Rule…exceeds the scope of the authority set forth by the [Clean Water Act], overreaching into the jurisdiction of the states.”

Gov. Gianforte further criticized the Biden administration’s proposed WOTUS rule for its vagueness, writing it “introduces an unacceptable level of ambiguity into permitting processes.”  The governor added that the rule’s language “is an avenue for ambiguity, expansive and inconsistent interpretation, and the unconscionable imposition of cost.”

The governor concluded, “Montanans deserve more than a moving target.  For this reason, I request that the EPA and USACE adopt a rule that stays true to the Rapanos plurality’s ‘relatively permanent’ standard.”

The governor’s letter can be viewed in its entirety here.

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