Nov 29, 2021
Proposed rule revises definition of ‘waters of the United States’

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall issued a statement Nov. 18 on the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule to replace the Navigable Waters Protection Rule.

“AFBF is disappointed EPA is returning to an overly complicated interim water rule. Overreaching regulations create major permit backlogs for the federal government and result in long delays for farmers and ranchers who are working to keep America fed. We are particularly concerned EPA is bringing back the significant nexus test. This case-by-case test threatens to unfairly regulate large areas of private land miles from the nearest navigable water.

“It’s troubling that EPA is putting a framework in place before completing the promised stakeholder engagement. Administrator Regan pledged to listen to the needs of farmers and ranchers and committed to a rule that is not overly burdensome. We urge him to stay true to his word.”

On Nov. 18, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army (“the agencies”) announced the signing of a proposed rule to revise the definition of “waters of the United States.”

According to an EPA news release, this proposal “marks a key milestone in the regulatory process” announced in June, 2021. The agencies propose to put back into place the pre-2015 definition of “waters of the United States,” updated to reflect consideration of Supreme Court decisions. This familiar approach to “waters of the United States” would support a stable implementation of “waters of the United States” while the agencies continue to consult with states, Tribes, local governments, and a broad array of stakeholders in both the implementation of WOTUS and future regulatory actions.

In developing the proposed rule, EPA and the Army reviewed and considered the extensive feedback and recommendations the agencies received from states, tribes, local governments, and stakeholders throughout consultations and pre-proposal meetings and webinars.

PRE-PUBLICATION NOTICE. The EPA Administrator, Michael S. Regan, and the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works), Jaime A. Pinkham, signed the following proposed rule on November 18, 2021, and EPA is submitting it for publication in the Federal Register (FR). EPA is providing this document solely for the convenience of interested parties. It is not a proposed rule, and it is not the official version of the rule for purposes of public notice and comment under the Administrative Procedure Act. This document is not disseminated for purposes of EPA’s Information Quality Guidelines and does not represent an Agency determination or policy. While we have taken steps to ensure the accuracy of this Internet version of the proposed rule the official version will be published in a forthcoming FR publication, which will appear on the Government Printing Office’s govinfo website (https://www.govinfo.gov/app/collection/fr) and on Regulations.gov (https://www.regulations.gov) in Docket No. EPA-HQ-OW-2021-0602.

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Photo: Sam Beebe/CC BY 2.0 




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