Court Decision Revives WOTUS in Some States


A South Carolina federal judge issued a nationwide injunction on the Trump administration’s delay of the “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule. The injunction is related to the executive order issued in February that would suspend the 2015 rule while the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers created a new rule.
 
U.S. District Judge David Norton agreed with the plaintiffs, saying the Administration failed to seek public comment on the substance of the rule or the implications of delaying the regulation by two years. As a result, the 2015 rule is now in effect in the following states: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.
 
However, due to injunctions in district courts in North Dakota and Georgia, the 2015 rule will not be in effect in the remaining 24 states.
 
Soon after taking office, the Trump administration directed the EPA and the Corps to write a new WOTUS rule that would define the term “navigable waters” less broadly than the 2015 rule. The agencies submitted a new proposed rule to the Office of Management and Budget for review in June of this year. The latest regulatory agenda published by the Trump administration anticipates the publication of a proposed WOTUS rule in the Federal Register this month, with a final rule by November 2019.

APWA submitted comments to the EPA and the Corps on the need for clarity in the WOTUS rule in September 2017.