EnergyFederalTrump Administration Announces New WOTUS Rule

The new "waters of the U.S." rule has been years in the making and will go into effect 60 days from its publication in the Federal Register.
January 23, 2020
At the direction of Executive Order 13788, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finally announced its new version of the “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule.

WOTUS, minted under the Obama administration, expanded the types of “waterways” that would fall under the regulatory purview of the EPA under the Clean Water Act of 1972. It was stretched so much to include “bodies of water” such as ponds and drainage ditches.

This expansion of regulation resulted in vast cost increases for individuals whose property contained newly regulated bodies of water, many of which include farmers and ranchers.

Last May, the Fifth Circuit Court ruled the EPA violated the “notice and comment” requirement. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton led the legal challenge against the rule.

After a rule is proposed, citizens have 60 days to provide comments and feedback on the proposed rule. The judge ruled citizens were not appropriately afforded this luxury.

The Texan Tumbler

Most notably, the new rule establishes four explicit categories of governable “waterways.” They are:

  • Territorial seas and traditional navigable waters
  • Perennial and intermittent tributaries to those waters
  • Certain lakes, ponds, and impoundments
  • Wetlands adjacent to jurisdictional waters

President of the Texas Independent Producers & Royalty Owners Association (TIPRO), Ed Longanecker, hailed the new rule, saying, “The new WOTUS rule will offer clarity, predictability, and consistency, so our industry can understand where the Clean Water Act applies—and where it does not. TIPRO applauds the Trump Administration and EPA for their work on this important issue.”

Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club — a national environmental organization — lamented the new rule, saying, “The need for clean water is as basic as it is universal. Yet the Trump administration has just given polluters a free pass to contaminate groundwater, destroy streams and wetlands and put our water at risk.”

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler touted the rule, stating, “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.”

The rule will go into effect 60 days after its posting in the Federal Register.


Disclosure: Unlike almost every other media outlet, The Texan is not beholden to any special interests, does not apply for any type of state or federal funding, and relies exclusively on its readers for financial support. If you’d like to become one of the people we’re financially accountable to, click here to subscribe.

Get “KB's Hot Take”

A free bi-weekly commentary on current events by Konni Burton.

Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.