June 28, 2017

EPA Proposes Rule To Do Away With Waters Of The U.S.

The EPA expanded the definition of “Waters of the U.S.” in the Clean Water Act to include tributaries that flow into navigable waterways. - USDA

The EPA expanded the definition of “Waters of the U.S.” in the Clean Water Act to include tributaries that flow into navigable waterways.


The Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday it’s proposing a rule to rescind the Clean Water Rule and a portion of the text that defines waters of the U.S.

The controversial regulation dictates which bodies of water are subject to federal clean water regulations. Indiana and several other states challenged the current interpretation of the rule, which is under a stay.

“Indiana knows best how to preserve our state’s waterways, and a one-size-fits-all approach from Washington disrupts the predictable regulatory climate we need for continued innovation and economic growth,” Gov. Eric Holcomb said in a statement. “Rescinding the 2015 WOTUS rule will allow Indiana’s environmental regulators and industry leaders, along with state and local officials, to effectively manage the quality of water we need to support public health, recreation and business for our state.”

Farmers across the state worried tributaries and other water features they use would be regulated under the rule and require special permits. But the Hoosier Environmental Council wanted the rule to remain in place and estimates more than half of Indiana’s streams and rivers will no longer be protected without the regulations in place.

The EPA’s announcement is the first step in the process to do away with waters of the U.S. regulations. The EPA must also start a rule making process to revise the definition of what waters can be regulated by the agency.

Several Indiana lawmakers are applauding the EPA’s announcement.

“The ill-conceived Waters of the United States rule was a crushing, overreaching regulation that would have prevented Hoosier farmers from providing for their families and created uncertainty for economic development throughout rural America,” Rep. Trey Hollingsworth (R-Jeffersonville) said in a statement. “I have consistently heard from 9th District farmers that this onerous regulation would have brought about nothing but obstruction for middle-class farm families. ”

Republican Rep. Jim Banks (R-Columbia City) says he also supports the action.

“WOTUS is a major overstep by the federal government, and I am pleased to see that the Administration is acting to withdraw this rule,” he said in a statement.

Sen. Joe Donnelly unsuccessfully tried to address the burden of the regulations through legislation in 2015. He serves on the Senate’s agriculture committee.

“It is important that we get this rule right, and I look forward to working with the EPA and the administration to ensure we have a collaborative effort with farmers, businesses, local governments and environmental groups to ensure our water is clean and safe,” Donnelly said in a statement.

President Trump signed an executive order in February that paved the way for eliminating the rule.

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