The EPA last week, with the Department of the Army, finalized the Navigable Waters Protection Rule to define “waters of the United States.”
The final rule removes millions of miles of streams and roughly half the country’s wetlands from protection under the Clean Water Act, which requires industries to obtain permits to discharge pollution or fill in wetlands and imposes fines for oil spills. Politico reported that it is the largest rollback since the modern law was passed in 1972, going farther than reversing what the Obama administration attempted in its 2015 Waters of the U.S. rule.
According to the USDA, the agencies streamlined the definition, provided clear exclusions, and defined terms in the regulatory text that have never been defined. The administration says the rule clearly delineates where federal regulations apply and gives state and local authorities flexibility to determine how to manage their waters.
Kevin Ross, president of the National Corn Growers Association, said the rule “gives the flexibility and clarity needed to implement stewardship practices without the threat of government action. The final WOTUS rule will protect our nation’s water and be implemented without confusion, (which is) welcome news for farmers.”
Sources: USDA, NCGA, Politico