Washington Report

Advocacy Updates from Washington D.C.

EPA Finalizes New WOTUS Rule

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works R.D. James announced a new, clear definition for “Waters of the United States.” With the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Army (Army) are delivering on President Trump’s promise to finalize a revised definition for “Waters of the United States” that protects the nation’s navigable waters from pollution and will result in economic growth across the country. NAR supports this new rule because it will allow states to more efficiently manage local waterways while maintaining current environmental protections and encourage economic development.

“EPA and the Army are providing much needed regulatory certainty and predictability for American farmers, landowners and businesses to support the economy and accelerate critical infrastructure projects,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “After decades of landowners relying on expensive attorneys to determine what water on their land may or may not fall under federal regulations, our new Navigable Waters Protection Rule strikes the proper balance between Washington and the states in managing land and water resources while protecting our nation’s navigable waters, and it does so within the authority Congress provided.”

“Having farmed American land myself for decades, I have personally experienced the confusion regarding implementation of the scope of the Clean Water Act,” said R.D. James, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works. “Our rule takes a common-sense approach to implementation to eliminate that confusion. This rule also eliminates federal overreach and strikes the proper balance between federal protection of our Nation’s waters and state autonomy over their aquatic resources. This will ensure that land use decisions are not improperly constrained, which will enable our farmers to continue feeding our Nation and the world, and our businesses to continue thriving.”

The Navigable Waters Protection Rule ends decades of uncertainty over where federal jurisdiction begins and ends. For the first time, EPA and the Army are recognizing the difference between federally protected wetlands and state protected wetlands. It adheres to the statutory limits of the agencies’ authority. It also ensures that America’s water protections – among the best in the world – remain strong, while giving our states and tribes the certainty to manage their waters in ways that best protect their natural resources and local economies.

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