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Court Puts Expansion of Waters of the U.S.
Definition on Hold
October 13, 2015
Last week, a federal appeals court temporarily blocked an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation that would expand the Clean Water Act and its definition of “Waters of the U.S.” The order is good news for 18 states that challenged the EPA regulation. The rule, finalized jointly in May 2015 by the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, seeks to bring smaller bodies of water at the outer edges of watersheds under the Clean Water Act, regulating more waterways and wetlands under federal protection. Last year, PHCC National joined with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in submitting comments to EPA requesting the rule be withdrawn. In April of this year, PHCC National held its annual Legislative Conference and incorporated its opposition to the rule in the program.
It is important to note that the court said the challengers had demonstrated “a substantial possibility of success” in winning the case. While the regulation is now on hold, the ruling did not resolve the legal merits of the regulation.
Following the ruling, EPA spokeswoman Melissa Harrison released this statement: “The agencies respect the court’s decision to allow for more deliberate consideration of the issues in the case, and we look forward to litigating the merits of the Clean Water Rule.”
The rule was issued in May 2015 and is estimated to put about 3 percent more waterways throughout the United States under federal jurisdiction. EPA’s contention is that the new rule is necessary to clarify which waters should fall under the protection of the Clean Water Act.