The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) quietly announced today that they are abandoning efforts to finalize “waters of the United States” guidance, which they have spent the last several years working on in conjunction with Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
Under the now defunct rule, the EPA asserted their authority to regulate water wherever it may fall, whether it be a ditch, an ephemeral stream, a farm pond or snow melt. The NAM believed this expansion is overly broad and goes far beyond the original intent of the Clean Water Act.
In the end, the EPA acquiesced to manufacturers, other stake holders, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the White House announced late yesterday that they are dropping their efforts to publish guidance to define “waters of the United States.”
Oddly enough, after numerous meetings and years of debate, the EPA made the announcement in the seventh paragraph of a blog, stating that “the final version of this report will serve as a basis for a joint EPA and Army Corps of Engineers rulemaking aimed at clarifying the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act. A draft of this rule was sent today to the Office of Management and Budget for interagency review. The proposed joint rule will provide greater consistency, certainty, and predictability nationwide by providing clarity for determining where the Clean Water Act applies and where it does not.”
While the EPA doesn’t seem to give much weight to this announcement, it could not be more important to manufacturers. The NAM will continue to work with our partners and the EPA/Corps on this rule to ensure the EPA does not pursue what we consider to be another drastic regulatory overreach by the federal government.
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