03-13-23 | News

NAHB Updates Efforts to Change WOTUS Rule

Association Says Current Rule Would Hurt Housing Development
by Staff

The House passed the Congressional Review Act (CRA) joint resolution of disapproval, which would rescind the Biden administration's new WOTUS rule.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) is ramping up its efforts to overturn the Biden administration's new Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. The NAHB has been lobbying Congress, which has culminated in the House passing the Congressional Review Act (CRA) joint resolution of disapproval on March 9th. CRA aims to rescind the new WOTUS rule that is scheduled to go into effect on March 20th. Alicia Huey, Chairman of the NAHB, commended the bipartisan House vote and stated, "Adding uncertainty and delay to the federal permitting process needlessly raises housing costs and defers badly needed affordable housing projects."

Although an identical resolution is pending before the Senate, it is unclear whether the resolution will pass. The NAHB is urging the Senate to move forward and pass the resolution to put pressure on the administration to change the WOTUS rule. The NAHB is also focusing its efforts on the Supreme Court, which is expected to rule on the legality of the significant nexus test, a critical part of the final rule. NAHB believes that a Supreme Court ruling in favor of the Sacketts, who brought suit against the EPA over whether there are wetlands on their property that would force the couple to apply for a federal permit under the Clean Water Act, could force the administration to scrap the worst parts of its WOTUS rule and return to the drawing board.

Frank Murphy, Chairman of NAHB's Environmental Issues Committee, testified before Congress and told lawmakers that additional regulations under the new WOTUS rule make it more difficult to provide homes or apartments at an attainable price point for working families. He stated that the rule "increases federal regulatory power over private property and increases litigation, permit requirements and lengthy delays for any business trying to comply." Murphy added that compliance costs for regulations are often incurred before home sales, and builders and developers must finance these additional carrying costs until the property is sold.

In summary, NAHB is calling for a practical definition of WOTUS that protects the nation's water resources without infringing on states' rights and triggering additional expensive, time-consuming permitting and regulatory requirements. The new WOTUS rule extends the areas in which home builders are required to get federal permits, resulting in continued regulatory barriers to affordable housing. The NAHB believes that if the administration is truly interested in knocking down barriers to affordable housing, it will direct the EPA and Corps to keep from implementing this rule until the Supreme Court issues its ruling in the Sackett case. Secondly, because this WOTUS rule is flawed, the NAHB recommends that Congress direct the agencies to scrap it and draft a new one that restores common sense and predictability to the federal wetlands permitting process while maintaining environmental protection of the nation's waterways.


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