Federal Judge Vacates Major Clean Water Act Regulation

Posted on 9/3/2021 by Roseanne Bottone

On August 30, 2021, a Federal judge in Arizona vacated and remanded a 2020 regulation that narrowed the EPA's enforcement jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. The decision is effective nationwide. It affects permit requirements for discharging pollutants to the water and permits to dredge and/or fill waters under Clean Water Act jurisdiction.

The Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR)—which EPA is already working to replace-- “rolled back” regulatory changes made in 2015. The 2015 revisions broadened EPA’s jurisdiction by re-defining the term Waters of the United States (WOTUS) to encompass more of the nation’s wetlands, marshes, streams, and other waters. 

In the decision to vacate and remand the 2020 NWPR, the Arizona judge expressed concern that the rule failed to adequately protect the nation’s waters. The Rule’s “fundamental, substantive flaws,” the judge wrote, “cannot be cured without revising or replacing the NWPR’s definition of ‘Waters of the United States.’”

An appeal is likely. Some stakeholders argue that vacating the NWPR returns the regulated community to the state of confusion that prompted the decades-long legal argument still playing out today.

As regulators work to replace the NWPR and more clearly define WOTUS (again), EPA will enforce pre-2015 Clean Water Act protections that date back to 1986.   

The 2015 WOTUS Rule weathered its own set of legal challenges—being blocked in some states, delayed and un-delayed, blocked nationwide, and ultimately repealed by EPA in 2019.

Complete EPA Regulations Training

If you’re new to the EH&S field or need an update on changing EPA rules, Lion's live webinars are a convenient way to quickly build up critical expertise.

On December 1 & 2, join Lion for live Complete Environmental Regulations training to identify the EPA rules that impact you. This instructor-led two-day webinar is updated to cover new and changing environmental regulations you should know about, including: 

  • Latest on EPA's new Waters of the US (WOTUS) Rule
  • Major Lautenberg Law amendments to TSCA
  • CSB's new chemical release reporting rule 
  • The latest Clean Air Act requirements for facilities 

Save your seat now

Or learn at your own pace with these two easy-to-use online courses: 
Complete Environmental Regulations Online
Clean Water Act & SDWA Regulations Online

More on this topic: 

Final Rule Alert: EPA's Navigable Waters Protection Rule (April 2020) 
Final Rule Alert: 2015 WOTUS Rule Repealed (October 2019) 
EPA Re-defines Waters of the United States (June 2015) 

Tags: Clean Water Act, environmental compliance, NPDES permit, WOTUS

Find a Post

Compliance Archives

Lion - Quotes

I think LION does an excellent job of any training they do. Materials provided are very useful to my day-to-day work activities.

Pamela Embody

EHS Specialist

Lion courses always set the bar for content, reference, and practical application. Membership and access to the experts is an added bonus.

John Brown, CSP

Director of Safety & Env Affairs

The course was very well structured and covered the material in a clear, concise manner.

Ian Martinez

Hazmat Shipping Professional

Excellent course. Very interactive. Explanations are great whether you get the questions wrong or right.

Gregory Thompson

Environmental, Health & Safety Regional Manager

The instructor had knowledge of regulations and understanding of real-world situations. The presentation style was engaging and fostered a positive atmosphere for information sharing.

Linda Arlen

Safety & Environmental Compliance Officer

The workshop covered a lot of information without being too overwhelming. Lion is much better, more comprehensive than other training providers.

George Alva

Manufacturing Manager

The instructor clearly enjoys his job and transmits that enthusiasm. He made a dry subject very interesting and fun.

Teresa Arellanes

EHS Manager

Convenient; I can train when I want, where I want.

Barry Cook

Hazmat Shipping Professional

If I need thorough training or updating, I always use Lion. Lion is always the best in both instruction and materials.

Bryce Parker

EHS Manager

The instructor was very knowledgeable and provided pertinent information above and beyond the questions that were asked.

Johnny Barton

Logistics Coordinator

Download Our Latest Whitepaper

Decrease spill, release, and injury risk and increase savings with these "source reduction" strategies to prevent unused chemicals from becoming regulated as hazardous waste.

Latest Whitepaper

By submitting your phone number, you agree to receive recurring marketing and training text messages. Consent to receive text messages is not required for any purchases. Text STOP at any time to cancel. Message and data rates may apply. View our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.