EPA publishes proposed rule redefining WOTUS

Read the original article by Susan Kelly at meatingplace.com here.

The Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers this week published a proposed rule defining the scope of waters regulated under the federal Clean Water Act, opening a public comment period through April 15.

The document, published in the Federal Register, revises the definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) in line with a February 2017 executive order directing the agencies to review the 2015 WOTUS rule, the agencies said.

An EPA official, speaking at the Environmental Conference for the Meat & Poultry Industry in Atlanta earlier this week, encouraged processors to provide feedback on the proposed rule.

The 2015 WOTUS rule, developed by the Obama administration, expanded the definition of the types of waterways that fell under federal jurisdiction. Farmers and livestock groups objected to the regulation as overreach, saying it opened the door to more mandatory permitting, federal enforcement actions and activist lawsuits.

Under the new rule, traditional navigable waters, tributaries to those waters, certain ditches, certain lakes and ponds, impoundments of jurisdictional waters, and wetlands adjacent to jurisdictional waters would be federally regulated.

The rule also spells out what are not “waters of the United States,” including features that only contain water during or in response to rainfall (ephemeral features); groundwater; many ditches, including most roadside or farm ditches; prior converted cropland; storm water control features; and waste treatment systems.

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