EPA Repeals Obama-Era WOTUS Rule

Filed in Codes and Regulations, Environmental by on September 12, 2019 6 Comments
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streamIn a positive development to resolve years of uncertainty over where federal jurisdiction begins and ends, the Environmental Protection Agency today rescinded the Obama-era “waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) rule.

“NAHB commends the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for repealing the 2015 WOTUS rule that vastly expanded federal overreach over water and land use by regulating man-made ditches and isolated ponds on private property,” said NAHB Chairman Greg Ugalde.

“By repealing the 2015 rule, the EPA and Corps have finally provided consistency among all 50 states, which will make the federal permitting process more predictable and affordable,” he added. “Now, the agencies need to finalize a new definition that restores common sense to the regulatory process by respecting states’ rights and balancing economic and environmental concerns.”

The 2015 WOTUS rule has been subject to several legal challenges that halted its implementation nationwide. Last month, the U.S. District Court for Georgia issued a decision finding that the substance of the rule violates the Clean Water Act. The court remanded the rule back to the agencies to fix it.

Prior to EPA’s repeal announcement, the Obama-era rule was in effect in 22 states and the District of Columbia, and the previous regulations issued in 1986 were in effect in the remaining 28 states. The EPA decision means the 1986 rule will now be in effect in nationwide until a final replacement rule is issued.

The Trump administration has proposed a new WOTUS rule that NAHB generally supports. The proposed rule would clarify the extent of federal oversight and correct the vast overreach of prior rules. Once finalized, builders and developers will be better able to determine for themselves whether they will need federal permits for construction activities.

And, because the proposed rule narrows the extent of federal jurisdiction by excluding isolated water bodies, “ephemeral” waters that only form in response to rain, and most ditches, builders should require fewer Clean Water Act permits for isolated or temporary wetlands or water bodies.

For more information, contact Evan Branosky at 800-368-5242 x8662.

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Comments (6)

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  1. I am extremely disappointed in our part in rolling back the environmental safeguards for our waterways. NAHB is not thinking about our future generations. Supporting Trump is leading us to certain blow back when the administration changes.

  2. It’s about time. My development was penalized under this rule.

  3. Guy Martin says:

    If the RPW nonsense is done away with, we’ll hear bulldozers cranking all over America. Man-made lakes accomplish the twin objectives of the Clean Water Act–decreasing surface water erosion and promoting subsurface water quality by creating wetlands–and the RPW restrictions make building lakes virtually impossible.

  4. WOTUS RULE affected me drastically on a property that has a small stream for irrigation and a small pond I built on it in 1958 to irrigate. Because of the bogus rule I was not allowed to develop the property and had to sale it as a complete piece. For no reason. Other than this under nonsense rule. I hope that the President and the EPA strike down more of these overreach reules

  5. Scott Sedam says:

    Your comments are very short-sighted and self-serving . Today there is a 7,000 square mile “dead zone” off the Louisiana coast due primarily to agricultural run-off. Last year the algae blooms made Lake Erie water off of Toledo unusable. Other examples abound throughout the country. For example, dairy farm mishandling of waste in my home state of Michigan is a continual problem, the kind of farms where thousands of head cattle never see the light of day. That’s all managed on “private property.” And all of us in home building have seen issues on site development. Sure, it’s a pain in the butt, and sometimes expensive, and sometimes the rules are over-applied and don’t make sense. So fix the rules, don’t eliminate them. All private run-off eventually ends up in public waterways and that is the entire point of WOTUS. Having WOTUS with its problems is a damn site better than not having it at all. So fix it. Our children and grandchildren depend on us being more far-sighted than you are being at the NAHB. This is a step backward.

    • Harold Ramsey says:

      I agree w/ you to some extent. Large areas like that need to be controlled. But small builders like us are having to install all kinds of barriers to control water water run off for a residential job sites. Running cost up that is not needed. I find it sad and funny. I live on a lake and watch people blow grass into the street ends up in the lake. County will NOT do anything about it, but will jump on builder shutting down our jobs. WHAT A JOKE.

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