Coalition concerned about WOTUS rule changes, project delays

The Environmental Protection Agency is drafting a new WOTUS rule following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, but the Waters Advocacy Coalition fears the new rule won’t bring needed clarity and certainty.

Courtney Briggs says the coalition is also concerned about what EPA will do with a rapid timeline and no public hearing. “They are bypassing stakeholder engagement and comments in order to get this rulemaking finished rather quickly, and the concern there is that they’re going to go through and just delete the very bare minimum.”

And Briggs says a partial change to the existing rule won’t be enough. “The concern there is that the agencies just going to go through and just delete any reference to the significant nexus test when really there needs to be more done in order to get this rule in compliance with Sackett (vs. EPA).”

The Waters Advocacy Coalition represents more than forty agricultural, construction, manufacturing, energy, transportation, and recreation organizations.

The coalition says there is also a new problem, as many building and infrastructure projects are on hold. “All of the projects that the federal government has just approved, a significant amount of dollars to refining and reconstructing all of that infrastructure, all of that is going to be placed on hold because the (Army) Corps is not issuing any jurisdictional determinations at the moment.”

And with the delays, many approved and funded infrastructure projects cannot move forward yet. “whether that be home building or road building, infrastructure, because summer is really the time that they do a lot of this work and the fact that these entities cannot get approved jurisdictional determination from the corps is very concerning.”

Briggs says on one hand, they need the agencies to move quickly to get projects moving but they also need EPA to take the necessary time and reach out to stakeholders to make a durable WOTUS rule that makes sense.

Audio: Courtney Briggs with the Water Advocacy Coalition

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