The EPA on Dec. 11 proposed a new Clean Water Rule which replaces the 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule.
“Our proposal would replace the Obama EPA’s 2015 definition with one that respects the limits of the Clean Water Act and provides states and landowners the certainty they need to manage their natural resources and grow local economies,” said EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler in a statement announcing the rule.
“For the first time, we are clearly defining the difference between federally protected waterways and state protected waterways,” added Wheller. Our simpler and clearer definition would help landowners understand whether a project on their property will require a federal permit or not, without spending thousands of dollars on engineering and legal professionals.”
The National Association of Manufacturers(NAM) applauded this change. “EPA’s new Clean Water Rule is a positive step forward for manufacturers, for our country and for responsible environmental stewardship,” said JayTimmons, CEO of NAM, who attended today’s announcement. “Manufacturers rely on clean water for everything from growing agricultural inputs to engineering green chemistry and providing renewable power.
“We simply ask for regulatory certainty,” added Timmons. The uncertainty created by the overreaching and unfair 2015 WOTUS rule threatened manufacturing jobs, and it failed to protect clean water adequately. Smart water policy is critical for all of us, and manufacturers are committed to keeping our promise to use the certainty we have been given to do our part to make our water and air cleaner—and our environment healthier. After all, the earth is the only home we have.”
Under the agencies’ proposal, traditional navigable waters, tributaries to those waters, certain ditches, certain lakes and ponds, impoundments of jurisdictional waters, and wetlands adjacent to jurisdictional waters would be federally regulated. It also details what are not “waters of the United States,” such as features that only contain water during or in response to rainfall (e.g., ephemeral features); groundwater; many ditches, including most roadside or farm ditches; prior converted cropland; stormwater control features; and waste treatment systems.
The agencies believe this proposed definition appropriately identifies waters that should be subject to regulation under the Clean Water Act while respecting the role of states and tribes in managing their own land and water resources. States and many tribes have existing regulations that apply to waters within their borders, whether or not they are considered “waters of the United States.” The agencies’ proposal gives states and tribes more flexibility in determining how best to manage their land and water resources while protecting the nation’s navigable waters as intended by Congress when it enacted the Clean Water Act.