15 Jun Biden Administration to Re-define ‘Waters of the U.S.’ Rule
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers have asked a federal judge to remand the Waters of United States (WOTUS) rule without vacating it, essentially leaving the current rule in place while the agencies work on a replacement.
“This action reflects the agencies’ intent to initiate a new rulemaking process that restores the protections in place prior to the 2015 WOTUS implementation, and anticipates developing a new rule that defines WOTUS and is informed by a robust engagement process…,” the announcement stated.
Prior to the 2015 rule’s implementation, those waters that were no longer permitted by EPA were still regulated by the individual states through long-standing water programs. The Trump-era rule resulted in a 25 percent reduction in the number of streams and wetlands that are afforded federal protection (permitted under the CWA by EPA), said Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jaime A. Pinkham.
At least 333 projects that would have required Clean Water Act permits before the 2020 rule, now no longer require federal approval, the agencies said. A critical difference between the Obama and Trump administrations’ navigable waters protection rules is how they treat intermittent streams that flow only after heavy rain or snow melt.