New WOTUS Rule Provides More Clarity and Certainty

On January 23, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Army (Army) finalized the Navigable Waters Protection Rule to define “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) and established federal regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act. The new rule provides more clarity and certainty to enforcement of the Clean Water Act.

According to the announcement, the agencies are streamlining the definition so that it includes four simple categories of jurisdictional waters, provides clear exclusions for many water features that traditionally have not been regulated. Under the final rule, the four clear categories include:

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

American Forest & Paper Association President and CEO Heidi Brock issued the following statement regarding the rule: 

“Paper and wood products manufacturers applaud the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for providing clarity around the implementation of Clean Water Act regulations across the United States. All stakeholders – including forest products manufacturers and state and local governments – deserve regulatory certainty as they work to ensure our nation’s waters are protected. As one of the largest manufacturing sectors in the nation with a successful record of implementing sustainable manufacturing principles and investing in improving water quality, we support EPA’s action to promote the environment, economic growth and job creation.” 

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall also issued the following statement

“Farmers and ranchers care about clean water and preserving the land, which are essential to producing healthy food and fiber and ensuring future generations can do the same. That’s why we support the new clean water rule. It provides clarity and certainty, allowing farmers to understand water regulations without having to hire teams of consultants and lawyers. We appreciate the commitment of the agencies involved and this administration to crafting a new regulation that achieves important regulatory oversight while allowing farmers to farm. Clean water, clear rules.”  

 

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