For decades, there has been contentious debate surrounding the meaning of a seemingly simple phrase in the Clean Water Act (CWA), “waters of the United States.” This phrase describes the scope of federal jurisdiction under the CWA but is not statutorily defined. In 2015, the Obama administration promulgated the WOTUS Rule. The Trump administration then replaced the WOTUS Rule with the Navigable Waters Protection Rule in 2020. Both the Obama and Trump Rule faced a flurry of lawsuits filed across the nation.
A recent decision from the United States District Court for the District of Arizona has vacated the Trump administration’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule, meaning it is no longer in place. This triggered the Environmental Protection Agency to announce that it has “halted implementation of the Navigable Waters Protection Rule.” The EPA and US Army Corps of Engineers are currently interpreting “waters of the United States” consistent with the pre-2015 regulatory approach.
The EPA Administrator, Michael Regan, has announced that the agency promulgate its definition, which will differ from both the Obama WOTUS Rule and Trump Navigable Protection Rule. The EPA plans to release their proposed rule for comment in November. To read more, click here.