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More Coherent Federal Waters Definition Proposed by EPA

This past Tuesday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Army, and Army Corps of Engineers proposed a repeal of the controversial 2015 federal waters rule covered by the Clean Water Act. As we have previously reported in blogs and seminars, this very controversial prior rule encompassed management of rivers, streams, wetlands, and other bodies of water. It was seen by most state’s attorney generals as providing too much federal authority over resource management. As such, it was stuck for years under review in the Courts, creating uncertainty for many of our Ohio River valley clients.

According to the EPA, the change will “provide regulatory certainty to [the] nation’s farmers and businesses,” resulting in a re-evaluation that will be “thoughtful, transparent and collaborative with other agencies and the public.”

Repeal of the 2015 rule would be “the first step in the two-step process” of clarifying the environmental legislation, according to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. Following this repeal, the governing agencies would begin the process of substantively re-evaluating the definition of “waters of the United States” (commonly “WOTUS”) in order to provide more certainty and clarity in existing laws.

Opponents of the change critique the proposed revisions as putting certain environmental locations at risk. However, supporters are welcoming the correction of “federal overreach” and laud placing more regulatory authority within state jurisdiction. Although exact details of the changes have yet to be released by the EPA, the importance of understanding your state’s laws governing these environmental matters will only grow as the legislation develops.

For more information about this or any related issue, please contact Indiana and Illinois environmental law attorney Kent A. “KAB” Brasseale II at (812) 423-3183 or kbrasseale@KDDK.com; or contact any member of the KDDK Environmental Law Practice Team.

About the Author

Kent A. (KAB) Brasseale II

With a degree in Chemical Engineering and more than 20 years’ experience practicing law, KAB Brasseale, is equipped with the skills and knowledge to efficiently and effectively represent clients in environmental, mineral, intellectual property, construction, business and real estate matters. KAB takes the time to understand his clients’ needs and objectives. KAB’s experience, combined with his active service in civic and professional organizations and as a real estate licensing instructor, have yielded the skills to achieve efficient “win-win” results.

 

(Matthew Rust, a law clerk for KDDK, contributed to this article.)

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