December 17, 2018

EPA Issues New Waters Of The United States Regulation

In 2015, the Obama administration finalized a regulation, the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, that would have expanded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) authority over bodies of water in the United States. Industry groups, including several stakeholders in the manufacturing industry, argued the rule was too broad and could be read to include virtually all bodies of water, no matter how small, and would raise costs for businesses.

The Trump administration opposed that version of the rule and issued its own draft last week.

According to Politico, the Trump administration proposal would protect streams that flow year-round and intermittent waterways that carry water only at certain times of year. The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers, however, have asked potential commenters to tell them whether the rule should only cover perennial waterways. The proposed rule, Politico said, also would “dramatically shrink the number of wetlands protected federally by covering only those that touch or have a direct surface water connection to protected rivers, streams and lakes.” The public will have 60 days to comment on this provision, and the rule in its entirety.

Click here to learn how to comment.

According to the American Action Forum, the EPA estimated economic impact of the proposed rule using two methods: the new proposal versus the 2015 final rule, and the proposed rule versus pre-2015 practices. Using the first method, the agencies estimated avoided costs of a low range of $9-$15 million and a high range of $98-$164 million with forgone benefits of anywhere between $3-$33 million. In the second method, the agencies estimate avoided costs of between $28-$266 million, with forgone benefits of $7-$47 million.