Administration Submits New WOTUS Definition for Review

Clipboard with checkboxes and check marks line icon. Black outline clipboard and ticks. The Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers last week submitted a new proposed “Waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) regulatory definition to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review. The proposal had not been expected until August.

The regulatory definition of WOTUS determines not only what landscape features are subject to federal regulation for home builders and developers under the Clean Water Act but also what land clearing or dredging operations may trigger subsequent federal permitting requirements under the act’s wetlands permitting process and stormwater management programs.

When the agencies submitted the new proposal June 15, it took the first step in the Trump administration’s longstanding process to replace what home builders and other stakeholders say were confusing – and overreaching – definitions approved during the Obama administration.

While those definitions are now on hold, this month’s action represents an opportunity for officials to see what new regulations might look like as other federal agencies can now provide comment about how the proposal is consistent with federal law and how its application might affect their own operations.

Typically, the interagency review process takes no more than 90 days — which means NAHB should expect a proposed WOTUS rule in the Federal Register for members to see and comment on by September.

“NAHB looks forward to working with the Trump administration, industry stakeholders, states and local governments to ensure the EPA and Corps proposal is consistent with Supreme Court precedents concerning the limits of federal jurisdiction over isolated wetlands and ephemeral streams as well as President Trump’s executive order on WOTUS,” said NAHB Chairman Randy Noel when the proposal was sent.

“The nation’s home builders expect the forthcoming proposed WOTUS rule will protect our nation’s waterways and promote economic growth my minimizing federal regulatory burdens,” he said.

For additional information, contact Michael Mittelholzer.

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