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U.S. House Vote Blocks USEPA-Proposed Changes to Definition of Waters of the U.S. Under the Clean Water Act

Clean Water ActThe U.S. House approved a bill on September 9, 2014 to effectively block the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) from using its proposed definition of Waters of the United States for any rulemaking regarding the Clean Water Act. House members passed the Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act of 2014 (H.R. 5078) with a vote of 262-152. Many of the lawmakers who voted to approve the bill say they are concerned the USEPA rule update would subject trivial bodies of water to federal regulation. H.R. 5078 would also require the USEPA and the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to consult with State and local stakeholders to develop a new proposal for defining what waters are covered under the Clean Water Act. 

The White House issued a Statement of Administrative Policy in opposition of H.R. 5078 which says in part, "If the President were presented with H.R. 5078, his senior advisers would recommend that he veto the bill.” The Associated Press reports that USEPA Administrator Gina McCarthy says she will continue with USEPA efforts to implement the rule, despite the House vote. The USEPA says the intent of the proposed rule is to clarify the definition of streams, wetlands, and other jurisdictional waters under the Clean Water Act. The proposed definition would apply to all Clean Water Act programs. USEPA and USACE say the updated definition of Waters of the United States is intended to be consistent with the Supreme Court’s more narrow reading of Clean Water Act jurisdiction.

The comment period for the proposed definition of Waters of the United States under the Clean Water Act ends on October 20, 2014. To access more information from the USEPA about the proposed rule, click here. To access the Federal Registry and submit a comment on the proposed rule, click here.

If you have questions about how the updated rule could impact your facilities, planned projects, or programs, contact Jeff Hruby, AE2S Water Resources Practice Leader, at Jeff.Hruby@AE2S.com or 701-221-0530.

If you have any questions concerning the content of this newsletter,
please contact Heather Syverson at 701-364-9111 or Heather.Syverson@ae2s.com.
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