EPA, Army repeal Obama-era rule governing US waterways
The Environmental Protection Agency and the Army have repealed an Obama-era rule that expanded the definition of “waters of the United States” – or WOTUS – that are regulated under the Clean Water Act.
The agencies are also implementing the definition that existed before the 2015 expansion, according to a Thursday news release from the EPA, while proposing a new one.
“Today, EPA and the Department of the Army finalized a rule to repeal the previous administration’s overreach in the federal regulation of U.S. waters and recodify the longstanding and familiar regulatory text that previously existed,” said EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler in the release.
The EPA and Army say they found errors in the regulation that required its repeal, saying it:
• Did not implement the legal limits on the scope of the agencies’ authority under the Clean Water Act as intended by Congress and reflected in Supreme Court cases.
• Failed to adequately recognize, preserve, and protect the primary responsibilities and rights of states to manage their own land and water resources.
• Approached the limits of the agencies’ constitutional and statutory authority absent a clear statement from Congress.
• Suffered from certain procedural errors and a lack of adequate record support as it relates to the 2015 Rule’s distance-based limitations.
In a statement Thursday afternoon, Congressman Don Young praised the rule’s repeal, saying:
"While the Clean Water Act is important piece of environmental protection legislation, President Obama’s WOTUS rule was just one more example of the egregious federal overreach that defined his heavy-handed administration. Expanding the definition of 'navigable waterway' to include tiny streams and ponds only served to ensure that every day Americans — Alaskans among them — would run afoul of the rule. President Trump has been a great partner in the fight to reign in the previous administration’s outrageous expansion of Federal power, and I would like to thank him and EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler for their continued commitment to cutting red tape and reducing government bureaucracy."
According to the EPA's release, the EPA and Army have proposed a new definition of WOTUS that makes a clearer distinction between waterways that are federally regulated and those that are under a state's authority.
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