Final revised WOTUS rule published
The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army last week published in the Federal Register a final rule to replace the Obama administration’s Waters of the United States rule, known as WOTUS.
The Trump administration has named the rule defining the scope of waters federally regulated under the Clean Water Act as the Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR).
This rule is effective on June 22.
Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John Hoeven, R-N.D., praised the implementation, noting “Industries across sectors, including agriculture, energy and construction, need regulatory certainty, which is exactly what we’ve worked with the administration to provide under the replacement for WOTUS.”
“By respecting the role of states in managing their water, we can support good environmental outcomes while also reducing the unnecessary cost and complications that come with duplicative regulations, like the 2015 rule. We look forward to the NWPR going into effect, and will continue our efforts with the EPA to ensure it is administered in a way that achieves these goals.”
According to the EPA, Hoeven said, “the NWPR maintains federal authority to protect the quality of navigable waters and the core tributaries that flow into them.”
“At the same time, the rule makes clear those waters which are not covered by federal authority and will continue to be protected under state, tribal and local regulations, including:
▪ Features that only contain water in direct response to rainfall.
▪ Many ditches, including most roadside and farm ditches.
▪ Farm and stock watering ponds.
▪ Waste treatment systems.
▪ Prior converted cropland.”
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said, “Since the first inception of this rule, I’ve worked to secure changes to it with the goal of protecting clean water without making it harder for farmers and ranchers to operate. I’m encouraged that the new rule takes steps to protect lakes, ponds, streams, and other tributaries, while providing that certainty to our ag producers.”
Peterson noted he was the lead Democrat on the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act of 2015, a bill which required the EPA to withdraw the WOTUS rule and develop a new rule based on input from stakeholders. Peterson said he supported the administration’s efforts to reexamine and withdraw WOTUS for the past several years.