Issue Update

ESA, WOTUS, and EPA

Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) released a discussion draft for the Endangered Species Act Amendments of 2018. In a media release, Senator Barrasso stated “When it comes to the Endangered Species Act, the status quo is not good enough. We must do more than just keep listed species on life support – we need to see them recovered. This draft legislation will increase state and local input and improve transparency in the listing process. It will promote the recovery of species and allow local economies to flourish. I have worked closely with the bipartisan Western Governors’ Association to draft a bill that works for endangered species and people alike.”

The release of the discussion draft amendments reauthorizes the ESA for the first time since its funding authorization expired in 1992. Included in the discussion draft are provisions that provide more authority to state agencies in the development of recovery plans for ESA species. It is uncertain at this point if this creates a more laborious and bureaucratic process for State agencies.

On June 29, the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers issued a supplemental proposal to the July, 2017, proposed action to repeal the 2015 definition of the Waters of the United States (WOTUS). This proposed supplement will expand opportunities for public comment and provide clarity and transparency to the rulemaking process. Former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt stated the following in an EPA media release, “We are making it clear that we are proposing to permanently and completely repeal the 2015 WOTUS rule and keep the pre-2015 regulatory framework in place as we work on a new, improved WOTUS definition.” Comments will be due on this proposal 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. The Water Advocacy Coalition applauded the action of EPA and ACOE to advance the full repeal of the 2015 WOTUS rule.

Read the draft legislation here.

FRA will continue to monitor and work with our allied groups to address and comment on these important issues.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt stepped down yesterday in the face of numerous investigations into his ethical conduct in carrying out the duties of the Administrator. His deputy, Andrew Wheeler, will take over EPA on Monday. Wheeler is a known quantity in that he served as the staff director of the Senate Environment and Public Works’ Air Subcommittee for six years from 1997 to 2003. This was followed by another six years as Republican staff director and chief counsel for the full committee. Following that stint, he served as a government affairs consultant to a number of energy companies. It is anticipated that Mr. Wheeler will continue the regulatory reform agenda that Scott Pruitt had started. We look forward to the opportunity to educate the new Administrator and his team about the environmental challenges and opportunities of the wood supply chain.
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