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.
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.
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Brad Johnson is 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 watching and quoting Monty Python productions.