The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers recently announced they have halted implementation of the Navigable Waters Protection Rule nationwide and are reverting back to a definition of waters of the United States, or WOTUS, established in the 1980s. This announcement comes after a federal district court judge struck down the Trump administration’s final rule defining waters of the United States that are federally regulated under the Clean Water Act.

Under President Trump, EPA and the Corps repealed the ABC-opposed definition of WOTUS issued under President Obama in 2015 and replaced it with the NWPR, which provided four clear categories of waters under the CWA that businesses and landowners could easily understand. However, in her decision, the judge wrote that allowing the Trump-era regulation to stay in place while the administration works on a new definition of WOTUS could lead to serious environmental harm, but since the Obama-era rule was repealed, the agencies must interpret WOTUS using the pre-2015 definition.  

The definition of WOTUS that is currently being implemented by the agencies can be found on the EPA website. Additionally, the agency website includes guidance for implementing this definition of WOTUS following the Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v. United States, Rapanos v. United States and Carabell v. United States Supreme Court decisions.

EPA and the Corps recently held a series of public meetings to hear from interested stakeholders on their perspectives on defining WOTUS and how to implement that definition as the agencies pursue this process. On Sept. 3, ABC submitted comments as a member of the Waters Advocacy Coalition to the agencies on their intent to revise the definition of WOTUS.

ABC will continue to monitor and provide updates on WOTUS in Newsline.