The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in conjunction with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, has proposed a two-year delay for a new rule determining the definition of what constitutes “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) in the federal Clean Water Act. The current WOTUS rule, which was finalized in 2015 after much controversy, is currently in process of being repealed by order of President Trump, and will eventually be replaced by an updated version of the rule.
EPA has proposed to delay the implementation date of the WOTUS rule to November 2019 in order to allow the agency more time to work through the process to repeal and replace the 2015 rule, which is under a nationwide stay due to several legal challenges. The proposal is being dubbed “Phase Zero” with repeal being “Phase One” and replacing the rule being “Phase Two.” The agency also intends to use the time to consult with states, tribes, and local governments beginning early in 2018.
The proposal has been sent to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review, after which it will be published in the Federal Register for official public notice. The EPA press release on the proposal can be accessed here.