Waters of the United States
EPA and Army Take Action to Provide Certainty for the Definition of WOTUS
On November 18, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army (“the agencies”) announced the signing of a proposed rule to revise the definition of “waters of the United States.” This proposal marks a key milestone in the regulatory process announced in June, 2021. The agencies propose to put back into place the pre-2015 definition of “waters of the United States,” updated to reflect consideration of Supreme Court decisions. This familiar approach to “waters of the United States” would support a stable implementation of “waters of the United States” while the agencies continue to consult with states, Tribes, local governments, and a broad array of stakeholders in both the implementation of WOTUS and future regulatory actions.
EPA and Army Announce Process to Submit Nomination Letters for Regional Roundtables
EPA and Army are announcing a process for stakeholders to submit nomination letters with a slate of participants to potentially be selected as one of ten roundtables on the regional implications of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS). The regional roundtables will engage stakeholders representing diverse perspectives in meaningful dialogue to help inform the agencies’ work to develop an enduring definition of WOTUS that supports public health, environmental protection, agricultural activity, and economic growth.
In response to robust interest in these regional roundtables, the agencies have extended the deadline for submissions to December 1, 2021.
Order Vacating and Remanding the Navigable Waters Protection Rule
The Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the agencies) are in receipt of the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona’s August 30, 2021, order vacating and remanding the Navigable Waters Protection Rule in the case of Pascua Yaqui Tribe v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In light of this order, the agencies have halted implementation of the Navigable Waters Protection Rule and are interpreting “waters of the United States” consistent with the pre-2015 regulatory regime until further notice. The agencies continue to review the order and consider next steps. This includes working expeditiously to move forward with the rulemakings announced on June 9, 2021, in order to better protect our nation’s vital water resources that support public health, environmental protection, agricultural activity, and economic growth. The agencies remain committed to crafting a durable definition of “waters of the United States” that is informed by diverse perspectives and based on an inclusive foundation.
EPA and Army Announce Public Meeting Schedule, Solicit Pre-Proposal Recommendations on “Waters of the United States”
EPA and Army are announcing a series of engagement opportunities on defining “waters of the United States”, including an opportunity for stakeholders and the public to provide written recommendations; a series of public meetings in August; and a plan for regionally-focused and inclusive roundtables during the fall and winter.