Waters of the United States
EPA and Army Select 10 Roundtables to Highlight Regional Implications of WOTUS
On May 4, 2022, EPA and Army announced the schedule of ten roundtables that highlight geographic differences and a range of perspectives—including agriculture, conservation groups, developers, drinking water and wastewater managers, environmental organizations, communities with environmental justice concerns, industry, Tribal nations, and state and local governments. The agencies are working with each selected roundtable to facilitate engaging discussion on implementation of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS), and to ensure full understanding of regional differences.
EPA and Army Take Action to Provide Certainty for the Definition of WOTUS
On December 7, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army (“the agencies”) announced 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 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 current implementation and future regulatory actions. The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register. The public comment period closed on February 7, 2022.
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.