Supplemental Notice: Definition of “Waters of the United States” - Recodification of Preexisting 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.
On October 22, 2019, the agencies published the final Step One rule to repeal the 2015 Clean Water Rule: Definition of “Waters of the United States” ("2015 Rule") and re-codify the regulatory text that existed prior to the 2015 Rule. The final rule became effective on December 23, 2019.
The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Army (the agencies) issued a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking to the July 2017 proposed action to repeal the 2015 definition of "waters of the United States" (also known as Step One). The agencies issued a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking to clarify that the agencies are proposing to permanently repeal the 2015 Rule in its entirety. The notice also reiterated that the agencies were proposing to recodify the pre-2015 regulations - a longstanding regulatory framework that is currently being administered by the agencies - to keep them in place and implemented consistent with Supreme Court precedent while the agencies finalize a revised definition of "waters of the United States."
The agencies issued the supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking to give the public an opportunity to comment on the 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 public comment period closed on August 13, 2018. Comments submitted to the Step One docket can be found here.