The EPA and US Army Corps of Engineers issued a proposed Rule to replace the 2015 Clean Water Rule, which will greatly reduce the area of wetlands, headwaters, ephemeral and isolated wetlands and waters that are federally protected. SWS members who wish to comment on this Rule will have 60 days to submit comments once the Rule is published in the Federal Register. Agencies are providing information about the Rule at EPA.gov/wotus-rule. In an EPA briefing earlier this week, officials outlined significant reductions in protection for many types of tributaries, lakes, ponds and adjacent wetlands, and elimination of protection of ephemeral features. The new Rule is based on Justice Scalia's definition of Waters of the United States, as well as past Supreme Court decisions such as Rapanos and SWANCC. Although stating that the three main goals included following the Clean Water Act and Supreme Court decisions, absent from the discussion was any explanation for how the new Rule would meet the objective of the Clean Water Act (33 USC 1251 Title I, Sec. 101(a)): "The objective of this Act is to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation's waters." However, officials stated that the two other primary goals are to make a clear distinction between what is regulated at the federal level and what is regulated at the state level, and to simplify the regulations so that property owners can determine for themselves whether their property is regulated or not. Links to articles on the proposed Rule are: https://www.eenews.net/stories/1060108967 and https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/06/climate/trump-water-pollution-wotus-replacement.html.
Read the press release being issued by SWS and sister CASS societies.