In February 2017, President Trump signed an executive order directing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to review the 2015 final Clean Water Rule: Definition of “Waters of the United States,” also known as the WOTUS final rule, and accordingly revise or rescind it through public comment.
The agencies are currently implementing the president’s executive order through a two-step rulemaking process in order to provide certainty to the regulated community while the agencies develop a revised definition of WOTUS.
On July 12, the EPA and the Corps published a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking to seek additional comment on the agencies’ proposal to repeal the 2015 WOTUS rule and restore the regulatory definitions used prior to the 2015 rule. ABC submitted comments as a member of the Waters Advocacy Coalition.
On Aug. 16, Judge David Norton of the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina in Charleston ruled that the 2015 WOTUS rule can go into effect in the 26 states not currently covered by injunctions from district courts in North Dakota and Georgia. The EPA and Corps are currently reviewing the order as the agencies work to determine next steps. Additionally, a broad coalition of industry groups have stated that they are planning to appeal the decision.
The EPA and the Corps are expected to publish a notice of proposed rulemaking for the revised WOTUS definition in September 2018 and a final rule in fall 2019. Additionally, the agencies are working to finalize a rule to repeal the 2015 WOTUS rule and re-codify the regulations that existed prior to the 2015 rule in November 2018.