EPA Outlines Plans to Revise WOTUS Definition

USAgNet - 08/02/2021

The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of the Army outlined plans for revising the definition of the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule.

Specifically, the agencies plan to follow a two-pronged approach. A forthcoming foundational rule would restore the regulations defining WOTUS that were in place until 2015, with updates consistent with relevant Supreme Court decisions.

A separate, second rulemaking process would establish an updated and durable definition of WOTUS, the agencies explained. They also plan a public comment period for stakeholders to provide written comments, as well as a series of public meetings in August to hear perspectives on both rules.

Under the Obama administration in 2015, the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a new WOTUS rule that gave EPA broad jurisdiction over U.S. waters to include upstream waters and intermittent and ephemeral streams. The WOTUS rule was immediately challenged in court and subject to several preliminary injunctions. The Trump administration repealed the 2015 rule in 2019 and in June 2020, replaced it with the new Navigable Waters Protection Rule.

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