US EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers have proposed adding an applicability date to the much-debated 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Final Rule. The Final Rule, still stayed nationwide by court order and now under consideration by the Supreme Court,
expanded the scope of the Clean Water Act to address discharges to bodies of water not previously covered.
Spurred in part by an Executive Order issued by the President earlier this year,
EPA recently moved forward with a two-step process to re-evaluate the 2015 rulemaking.
The contested 2015 Final Rule was set to take effect in August 2017. Now, the contested 2015 Final Rule will not take effect until late 2019 or 2020
. By adding an applicability date to the original 2015 Final Rule, EPA aims to introduce some certainty into the ongoing debate about EPA’s clean water regulations.
This way, as EPA works to rescind or revise the 2015 Final Rule, regulated businesses will not have to fret over which definition of the “Waters of the United States” they should reference when planning their operations or evaluating the need for permits. Until the litigation and reconsiderations are complete, the pre-2015 version of the rules remains in effect.
While the 2015 Final Rule may never
take effect as finalized, adding the applicability date will reduce confusion among EHS professionals about what rules to follow as EPA works to create a definition of “Waters of the United States” that will stand up in court. See the proposed rule here.
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