EPA Releases New Waters of the U.S. Proposal
Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Army released its long-awaited proposal for a redefinition of the “Waters of the United States,” or WOTUS, which aims to clarify federal jurisdiction of waterways covered by the Clean Water Act (CWA). This latest proposal stands in stark contrast to the controversial 2015 WOTUS rule issued by the Obama Administration, which drastically expanded federal authority under the CWA. This latest development outlines a clearer definition of what constitutes waters of the U.S., hands more authority back to the states and, most importantly, will establish certainty for regulatory compliance and permitting. NRMCA has advocated since the outset of the WOTUS debate for protection of our nation’s waterways, while securing regulatory certainty and CWA flexibilities in order to successfully manage ready mixed concrete operations. As with all past EPA/Army notices on WOTUS, NRMCA will be submitting comments advocating for these same principles.
“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. “For the first time, we are clearly defining the difference between federally protected waterways and state protected waterways. 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.”
EPA/Army is accepting comments for 60 days following the proposal’s publication in the Federal Register. EPA/Army will also hold an informational webcast on January 10, 2019, and will host a public listening session on the proposed rule in Kansas City, KS, on January 23, 2019.