EPA, Department of the Army to revise Waters of the U.S. definition
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers have announced their intent to revise the definition of Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act.
EPA Administrator Michael Regan says the 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Rule is leading to “significant environmental degradation.”
President Biden requested a review of the Trump Administration’s rule. As a result, Regan says the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers will establish a definition of waters of the U.S. based on Supreme Court precedent and draw on lessons learned and input from stakeholders.
The agencies have determined the Navigable Waters Protection Rule is significantly reducing clean water protections. As a result of the findings, the Department of Justice is filing a motion requesting remand of the rule.
The agencies will initiate a new rulemaking process that restores the protections in place prior to the 2015 WOTUS implementation. They will develop a new rule that defines WOTUS and is informed by the experience of implementing the pre-2015 rule, the Obama-era Clean Water Rule, and the Trump-era Navigable Waters Protection Rule.
The agencies said they also found 333 projects that would have required Clean Water Act Section 404 permits before the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, but no longer do.
Acting Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jaime Pinkham says the agencies will develop a rule informed by technical expertise that is straightforward to implement and shaped by the lived experience of local communities.
EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers say the new regulatory effort will be guided by:
*protecting water resources and communities consistent with the Clean Water Act
*the latest science and the effects of climate change on waters
*emphasizing a rule with a practical implementation approach for state and Tribal partners
*reflecting the experience of and input received from landowners, the agricultural community that fuels and feeds the world, states, Tribes, local governments, community organizations, environmental groups, and disadvantaged communities with environmental justice concern
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