EPA  and Corps Float Proposal to Push Back Water Rule to 2020


Earlier this month, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed pushing back the effective date of the currently stayed 2015 Waters of the U.S. rule (WOTUS) from August 28, 2015, to at least 2020. In 2015, the agencies published the “Clean Water Rule: Definition of `Waters of the United States'” (80 FR 37054, June 29, 2015), and on October 9, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit stayed the 2015 Rule nationwide pending further action of the court.
 
In a separate action, the agencies proposed to replace the stayed 2015 definition of “Waters of the United States”, and re-codify the exact same regulatory text that existed prior to the 2015 rule. That proposal is being pursued by the agencies to “provide certainty and consistency to the regulated community.” The earlier action is a two-step process that first involves withdrawing the WOTUS rule, followed by a rewrite designed to ensure the 2015 rule remains off the books. The EPA’s Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water, Dennis L. Forsgren, has said the final decision on withdrawal won't be released until March, while the rewritten regulation won't come out before the end of 2018.
 
Both agencies have said they will take comments on the proposal to delay implementation for 21 days after its publication in the Federal Register, and “plan to move quickly to take final action in early 2018.”
 
You can read APWA’s comments on the proposal to replace the 215 rule here.