By Andrew H. PerellisRebecca A. Davis, and Craig B. Simonsen

Seyfarth Synopsis: The Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published their final rule this week, finally replacing the 2015 rule that “impermissibly expanded the definition of ‘waters of the United States’ (WOTUS)” under the Clean Water Act.  85 Fed. Reg. 22250 (Apr. 21, 2020).

The WOTUS rulemaking has been fraught with controversy and has generated well over 1-million public comments in the Agency record.

We have previously blogged on the WOTUS rulemaking. See Ongoing Saga — EPA & U.S. Army Repeal 2015 Rule Defining “Waters of the United States”EPA and Corps of Engineers Propose New “Waters of the United States” DefinitionEPA and Corps Add Years to “Effective” Applicability Date of WOTUS RuleExecutive Order on Restoring the Rule of Law … by Reviewing the “Waters of the United States” Rule, EPA and Army Corps of Engineers Propose to Rescind Obama Era Rule Redefining “Waters of the United States”EPA Publishes Final Rule Expanding Definition of “Waters of the United States” Under the Clean Water ActProposed Rule on Definition of “Waters of the United States” Under the Clean Water Act, and New Definition of “Waters of the United States”?

In the notice concerning the new rule, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) said: “I applaud President Donald Trump,  Administrator Wheeler, and Assistant Secretary R.D. James for standing up for middle class families in Kentucky. Replacing the Obama EPA’s WOTUS rule with one that protects our waters while also being more workable is a win for farmers and small businesses.” The EPA Administrator and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works have provided a “new, clear definition for ‘waters of the United States’.” U.S. Senator Mike Crapo (ID) noted that with this the new rule “EPA will rebalance the relationship between the federal government and state and local on-the-ground experts for effective and environmentally-sound water quality management policies… [it] has brought regulatory certainty to Idaho farmers, ranchers and businesses who have been impacted by the old WOTUS definition.”

The final rule takes effect on June 22, 2020.

For more information on this or any related topic please contact the authors, your Seyfarth attorney, or any member of the Seyfarth Workplace Safety & Environmental Team.