EPA Repeals 2015 Definition of WOTUS

Prairie Pothole Region, High Density Wetland Habitat

Photo: Ducks Unlimited, Public domain | Source: USGS

EPA Repeals 2015 Definition of WOTUS

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) together have published a final rule to repeal the 2015 Clean Water Rule: Definition of “Waters of the United States”, commonly called the "2015 Rule."  The final rule will become effective on December 23, 2019.

EPA and USACE gave four (4) reasons for repeal of the 2015 Rule:

  1. The 2015 Rule was out of scope of federal authority under the Clean Water Act (CWA).
  2. The 2015 Rule failed to  recognize the primary responsibilities and rights of States to manage pollution and plan land and water resource development.
  3. Repeal of the 2015 Rule is meant to avoid extreme interpretations of the CWA without a clear statement from Congress authorizing encroachments of federal jurisdiction over traditional State land-use planning authority.
  4. The 2015 Rule used Distance-based limitations to define adjacent waters rather than ecological and hydrological criteria as originally found in the proposed rule without public notice and opportunity for comment in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA)

Today's final rule returns the scope of federal CWA jurisdiction as existed prior to the 2015 Rule.