The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) released their final Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule today, setting the stage for further legal and legislative battles over the scope of Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction.
Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-OK) of the Senate Environment and Public Works committee said today that his committee will markup the Federal Water Quality Protection Act (S. 114) this summer. That legislation would direct EPA and Corps to withdraw the rule and initiate consultation with state and local governments, as well as impacted stakeholders.
House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN) also criticized the rule, saying, "I am disappointed but not surprised that the EPA has decided to move forward with a rule that would increase confusion and red tape. Farmers, ranchers, local communities and businesses all expressed concern with the negative impacts of this rule. Despite that, EPA either wasn’t willing to listen or simply just does not get it.”
Following the release of the agencies’ final rule, Dr. Barbara P. Glenn, Chief Executive Officer of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) issued the following statement:
“While we continue to review the final rule and the changes the agencies have made in response to public comments, we are disappointed EPA and the Corps did not provide state co-regulators and others impacted by this rule an opportunity to review and provide feedback on the changes made in final rule. Because of its far-reaching impacts, it is imperative we get this rule right to ensure a rule that works for state regulatory agencies and impacted stakeholders.”
Last year, NASDA members voted to call on EPA and US Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw the proposed WOTUS rule and collaborate with state departments of agriculture and other stakeholders on the appropriate scope of federal Clean Water Act jurisdiction. NASDA also submitted comments to both agencies, articulating concerns with the proposed rule.