In 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under President Trump and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers repealed the ABC-opposed 2015 WOTUS rule and replaced it with the Navigable Waters Protection Rule.

In August 2020, following a federal court decision, the agencies halted nationwide implementation of the NWPR.

In December 2021, the agencies issued a proposed rule that would repeal the NWPR and restore the pre-2015 definition of WOTUS. ABC submitted comments urging the EPA and the Corps to withdraw the proposed rule.

On Dec. 30, 2022, the EPA and Corps issued a final rule to revise the definition of “waters of the United States” applicable to all Clean Water Act programs, repealing the ABC-supported 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Rule. ABC issued a statement on the final rule, calling it the rule a “significant step back” that will “delay critical infrastructure projects and raise costs for the construction industry.”

On Feb. 16, 24 state attorneys general filed a lawsuit against the EPA and Corps, seeking to overturn the final rule.

On Feb. 27, ABC, along with members of the Waters Advocacy Coalition, sent a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee supporting H.J. Res. 27, a joint resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act of the revised WOTUS regulation.

On March 9, the House passed H.J. Res. 27. ABC key voted the resolution which passed by a bipartisan 227-198 vote.

On March 19, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas issued a ruling blocking the EPA and Corps from enforcing the WOTUS final rule, but only in the states of Texas and Idaho. The court separately rejected a request to block enforcement nationwide.

Desired Outcome

For decades, uncertainty surrounding the scope of federal authority under the Clean Water Act has resulted in litigation, regulatory uncertainty and confusion in the business community. ABC urges EPA and the Corps to return to the clear, concise definition of WOTUS implemented in the 2020 NWPR final rule so that its members have the information they need to comply with the law while also serving as good stewards of the environment.