EPA to Hold August Hearings on Revamping of WOTUS Rule

Filed in Environment by on July 30, 2021 4 Comments

streamThe Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced it will hold a series of virtual public meetings in August to hear from interested stakeholders on “their perspectives on defining ‘waters of the United States’ (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act” and how to implement that definition as federal agencies pursue this process.

NAHB will be participating in this process and encourages interested members to register for the meetings, which will take place on the following days (all times ET):

  • Aug 18, 3-5 p.m.
  • Aug 23, 1-3 p.m.
  • Aug. 25, 3-5 p.m.*
  • Aug. 26, 6-8 p.m.
  • Aug. 31, 3-5 p.m.

* Please note that the Aug. 25 meeting will focus on small businesses. Also, an additional hearing will be held Sept. 2, 2-4 p.m., in case all speaking slots are taken for the earlier meetings.

Registration information for all the meetings can be found here.

In addition, EPA has indicated that it will hold a series of regional field hearings in the fall and we will provide more information as it becomes available.

The Biden administration announced in June its intent to revise the definition of WOTUS and said that the Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR) to define WOTUS enacted during the Trump administration and supported by NAHB “is leading to significant environmental degradation.”

NAHB is a strong proponent of the NWPR because it corrects the vast overreach of prior rules by excluding most man-made ditches and isolated ponds from federal jurisdiction, restores common sense to the regulatory process, reduces projects costs and safeguards America’s water resources.

However, the Biden administration is taking a different approach. The EPA announced earlier this year that “upon review of the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, the agencies have determined that the rule is significantly reducing clean water protections.”

EPA said that as a result of these findings, EPA and the Department of the Army will seek a new rulemaking process that restores the protections in place prior to the 2015 WOTUS implementation, and “anticipates developing a new rule that defines WOTUS and is informed by a robust engagement process as well as the experience of implementing the pre-2015 rule, the Obama-era Clean Water Rule, and the Trump-era Navigable Waters Protection Rule.”

The August virtual hearings and regional field hearings to take place in the fall are part of this process, and NAHB will remain actively engaged to promote the home builder perspective as the rulemaking process moves forward.

Learn more on this issue at the WOTUS page on nahb.org.

For more information, contact Michael Mittelholzer.

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Comments (4)

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  1. Keith Jones says:

    Can someone provide any factual reports and/or studies that state how the NWPR has contributed to the significant degradation of the environment as stated by the Biden administration.

    • NAHB Now says:

      Mr. Jones – Here’s a link to EPA’s website with documents that support the EPA administrator’s statement that the current regulatory definition of “waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act is resulting in “substantial environmental degradation.” The last link, Supporting Documentation, consists primarily of four documents:

      1. Data from the Corps on percentage declines in the amount of requested and authorized jurisdictional determination (JD’s) requests issued by Corps following implementation of the Trump administration’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR),
      2. List of approximately 300 proposed projects (e.g., transportation infrastructure, energy infrastructure, mining, and some housing projects) the Corps claims are not jurisdictional because of the NWPR, but would have been under prior WOTUS definitions,
      3. Examples of litigation filed by environmental groups, some states, and native America tribes that claim the current WOTUS definition under the NWPR is insufficient to protect water quality, particularly in arid western states, due to the current WOTUS definition exclusion for all ephemeral features, and
      4. Examples of pending and passed state wetlands legislation in the states of Indiana and Ohio that seek to harmonize state and federal wetlands permitting requirements for certain isolated wetlands (under Indiana state law) and some ephemeral features i.e., streams and wetlands (under Ohio state law.)

      Clearly, NAHB many questions and some concerns with several of EPA and Corps findings under in each of these documents. If after reviewing these documents you would like to discuss further please email NAHB’s Michael Mittelholzer.

  2. Darren Suggs says:

    Is there a link to watch/ listen to the meetings? The Aug. 25th meeting is full for registering to speak, but can we login somewhere to listen and watch the speakers? It is supposed to be a public hearing, but public can’t listen in if we can’t login?

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