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WOTUS on EPA chopping block once again

By |  September 2, 2021
EPA under the Trump administration argued that the Navigable Waters Protection rule ended decades of uncertainty over where federal jurisdiction begins and ends. Photo: P&Q Staff

EPA under the Trump administration argued that the Navigable Waters Protection rule ended decades of uncertainty over where federal jurisdiction begins and ends. Photo: P&Q Staff

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hosted a series of public meetings this summer to hear from stakeholders interested in the “waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) rule, which is once again up for debate.

EPA, along with the U.S. Department of the Army, shared its intent this year to revise the definition of WOTUS. The Navigable Waters Protection Rule went into effect last year as the final replacement for the 2015 WOTUS rule that expanded the definition of “waters of the U.S.” to dry areas and isolated waters.

EPA under the Trump administration argued that the Navigable Waters Protection rule ended decades of uncertainty over where federal jurisdiction begins and ends, with aggregate industry stakeholders applauding its arrival. The EPA, however, is reexamining WOTUS under the Biden administration.

“We are committed to crafting an enduring definition of WOTUS by listening to all sides so that we can build on an inclusive foundation,” says Michael Regan, EPA administrator. “Uncertainty over the definition of WOTUS has harmed our waters and the stakeholders and communities that rely on them. I look forward to engaging all parties as we move forward to provide the certainty that’s needed to protect our precious natural water resources.”

According to EPA, it intends to revise the definition of WOTUS following a process that includes two rulemakings. The administration says a forthcoming foundational rule would restore the regulations defining WOTUS that were in place for decades until 2015, with updates to be consistent with Supreme Court decisions. A separate, second rulemaking process would refine this regulatory foundation and establish an updated WOTUS definition, the agency adds.

Kevin Yanik

About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is the editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry magazine. Yanik can be reached at 216-706-3724 or kyanik@northcoastmedia.net.

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