The bill, which Donnelly co-sponsored, failed Tuesday to get the 60 votes required to move forward in the Senate. It aimed to stop a new rule from going into effect that would let the EPA regulate smaller waterways, allowing for modifications that would ease the new restrictions.
Right now, implementation of the rule’s been blocked by a federal court. Earlier in the day, Donnelly told reporters that his proposed legislation would’ve given legislators the chance to fix the rule, “Instead of further lengthy and costly court battles, Congress should act to clarify the coverage of the Clean Water Act, or the courts will do that job instead of us. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and provide ag producers, conservationists, and county and local governments with the regulatory certainty they need to continue improving water quality.”
He said Indiana farmers care a lot about water quality, but their perspective wasn’t taken into account in the new rule, “If you talk to Hoosier farmers across our state, they’ll tell you, ‘Look, they never even listened to us,’ and all we’re trying to do is not to avoid a rule. As I said, this requires the EPA to finish up by the end of December of next year, and we’re asking them to recognize the fact that isolated farms and drainage ditches on farms – that’s not part of navigable waters. That’s not part of the interstate water system.”
Donnelly was one of the few Democrats supporting the measure to scale back the new rules.