As expected, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers have formally proposed a rule to overturn the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule and officially reinstate standards that were adopted in 2008.
The proposed rule is a temporary means to provide some type of stability while the agencies work to reevaluate the definition of “waters of the United States.” The announcement follows the Presidential Executive Order given in February that stated it is in the nation’s best interest to redefine how navigable waters are managed in the U.S.
The overall objective of redefining what constitutes “waters of the United States” is to promote economic growth, minimize the amount of regulatory uncertainty ensure that waters remain clean and free of pollution.
The rule will essentially reinstate existing regulatory language that was in place prior to the 2015 Clean Water Rule. This language is already in effect due to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit’s stay of the 2015 rule.
The action is an important first step in a two-step process. The agencies have already begun to perform outreach and started discussing methods on how to move forward in accordance with the Executive Order. The underlying goal is to establish regulatory language that will empower individual states and make those regulations easier to navigate legislatively.