On Sept. 12, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers signed the final rule rescinding the 2015 final Clean Water Rule: Definition of "Waters of the United States," also known as the WOTUS final rule. ABC President and CEO Michael Bellaman attended the signing ceremony for the rulemaking.
According to an EPA press release, this final rule completes the first in a two-step rulemaking process to define the scope of “waters of the United States” that are regulated under the Clean Water Act. With this final repeal, the agencies will implement the pre-2015 regulations, which are currently in place in more than half of the states.
As part of the second step, EPA and the Corps announced a proposal in December 2018 that would provide a clear definition of the difference between federally regulated waterways and those waters that rightfully remain solely under state authority. The final rule for this regulation is expected to be issued in December 2019.
These rulemakings came at the direction of President Trump’s Executive Order 13778, Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism and Economic Growth by Reviewing the “Waters of the United States” Rule, which states that the WOTUS final rule should be reviewed in order to protect American waterways from pollutants in the most economical way.
The final rule will go into effect on Dec. 23. More information on the final rule can be found on the EPA website.
ABC has long been a vocal opponent of the Obama-era WOTUS rule since it was first proposed in April 2014 and submitted comments on EPA and the Corps’ proposals on step one and step two of the WOTUS rulemaking, stating its continued commitment to work with the agencies and ensure the clearest possible regulations so that its members have the information they need to comply with the law. Additionally, ABC filed comments as a member of the Waters Advocacy Coalition.