EPA and Army Corps issue final Waters of the U.S. rule

June 3, 2015

On May 27, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers released their final joint rule to redefine Waters of the United States (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act. A copy of the final nine-page redefinition of WOTUS is available. EPA has provided additional information on the rule.

The final WOTUS rule is undergoing more detailed analysis for local impacts by the National Association of Counties (NACo) and VACo. Last year, both organizations submitted comments on the proposed rule. NACo has endorsed legislation (H.R. 1732) that passed last month in the House of Representatives by a vote of 261-155. This legislation requires EPA to withdraw the definition of WOTUS and re-start the rule-making process. Similar legislation (S. 1140) has been introduced in the Senate. The Obama Administration has vowed to veto any legislation passed by Congress to repeal WOTUS.

NACo has established an online hub with information on WOTUS at this link: http://www.naco.org/legislation/Pages/WOUS.aspx.

Last week, NACo’s Executive Director Matt Chase released the following statement on EPA’s release of the WOTUS rule:

“We support clean water. Clean water is essential to the nation’s counties on the front lines of preserving local resources, strengthening public safety and promoting economic growth.

We have repeatedly called for a collaborative intergovernmental process, greater certainty and a pragmatic rule to advance clean water goals without hindering counties’ vast public safety and infrastructure responsibilities.

While we appreciate the agencies’ recent efforts, the flawed consultation process has resulted in a final rule that does not move us closer to achieving clean water goals and creates more confusion than clarity.

Counties support common-sense environmental protection, but the final rule expands federal oversight and will create costly delays in critical work without any proven environmental benefit.

We will continue to work with bipartisan leaders on Capitol Hill to repeal the rule and ensure a collaborative rule-making process with state and local governments.  Only when we work together can we achieve the best results for county residents and protect water resources for generations to come.”

The new rule becomes effective 60 days after publication in the federal register.

VACo Contact: Larry Land, CAE

Source: National Association of Counties, News Release, May 27.

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