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Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rulemaking

Step One - Repeal

On this page:

Public Comment - Step One

Open Public Comment Period

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army (the agencies) are seeking additional comment on the proposed Repeal of the 2015 Rule through a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking.  Commenters need not resubmit comments already provided in response to the July 27, 2017 notice. The public comment period will close on August 13, 2018.   

Closed Public Comment Period

The proposed Step One rule public comment period closed on September 27, 2017, following a 30-day extension of the comment period. Comments can be found in the docket. As noted above, the agencies are seeking additional comment on the proposed repeal of the 2015 Rule through a supplemental notice. 


Step One Proposed Rule: Definition of "Waters of the United States" - Recodification of Pre-existing Rules

The agencies are proposing a rule to repeal the 2015 Rule and re-codify the regulatory text that existed prior to 2015 defining "waters of the United States" or WOTUS. On June 27, 2017, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, along with Mr. Douglas Lamont, senior official performing the duties of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, signed the proposed rule. The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on July 27, 2017.

This action would, if finalized, provide regulatory certainty while the agencies engage in a second rulemaking to revise the definition of "waters of the United States." The proposed rule would be implemented in accordance with Supreme Court decisions, agency guidance, and longstanding practice.  Proposing to re-codify the regulations that existed before the 2015 Rule will provide continuity for regulated entities, the states, tribes, and the public.

Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to the Proposed Step One Repeal

On June 29, 2018, the agencies signed a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking to the proposed Step One Repeal. This notice clarifies that the agencies are proposing to permanently repeal the 2015 Rule in its entirety. As part of the initial proposal, the EPA and the Army indicated their intent to recodify the pre-2015 regulations—a longstanding regulatory framework that is currently being administered by the agencies—to keep them in place until the agencies finalize a new definition of WOTUS. 

The agencies are issuing the supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking to give the public an opportunity to comment on additional considerations that support the agencies' proposed repeal, some of which the agencies did not discuss in detail in the initial Step One proposal. The agencies are continuing to review the comments received on the July 2017 proposal.

Commenters do not need to resubmit comments already provided in the response to the July 27, 2017, notice of the proposed Step One rulemaking.

The public comment period will open following publication of the supplemental notice in the Federal Register.  Once the public comment period opens, the public is encouraged to submit written comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2017-0203  to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: https://www.regulations.gov. General guidance on making effective comments is available at EPA's Commenting on EPA Dockets.