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EPA and Army to Update WOTUS Definition


The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army announced a proposed rule to re-establish the pre-2015 definition of the “Waters of the United States.” The agencies plan to update the rule that’s been in place for decades to reflect consideration of Supreme Court decisions.

The action will advance the agencies’ goal of establishing a WOTUS definition that protects public health, the environment, and downstream communities. At the same time, the new rule would support economic opportunity, agriculture, and other industries that depend on clean water. EPA Administrator Michael Regan says the only constant with WOTUS in recent years has been change.

“That’s created a whiplash in how to best protect our waters in communities across America,” Regan says.

Jaime Pinkham, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, says the new rule will be “mindful of implementation practices and will get shaped by the lived experience of local communities and stakeholders.”

“AFBF is disappointed EPA is returning to an overly complicated interim water rule,” says American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall. “Overreaching regulations create major permit backlogs for the federal government and result in long delays for farmers and ranchers who are working to keep America fed. We are particularly concerned EPA is bringing back the significant nexus test. This case-by-case test threatens to unfairly regulate large areas of private land miles from the nearest navigable water.

“It’s troubling that EPA is putting a framework in place before completing the promised stakeholder engagement. Administrator Regan pledged to listen to the needs of farmers and ranchers and committed to a rule that is not overly burdensome. We urge him to stay true to his word.”

Source: NAFB News Service and AFBF