EPA’s replacement WOTUS rule released
Replacement Waters of the United States rule protects waters and provides clarity for aggregates producers
US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Andrew Wheeler last week announced the new Navigable Waters Protection Rule: Definition of ‘Waters of the United States’ (WOTUS) at an event in Las Vegas. This rule was proposed in 2019 for public comment and has now been finalized.
‘For small businesses like mine, regulatory uncertainty and inconsistency result in real costs,’ said Alan Parks of National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA) member Memphis Stone & Gravel.
‘The new WOTUS definition continues to protect our nation’s water and provides clarity on several key exclusions such as ponds built on dry land, pits and basins associated with mining, and streams that only convey water after storm events.
‘Knowing that our gravel pits and water-treatment basins won’t carry an additional federal regulatory burden is very helpful. These changes will allow us to be even better stewards of our local natural resources, which results in a positive benefit to our community.’
NSSGA says the revised WOTUS rule replaces the deeply flawed and overly expansive 2015 WOTUS rule, which led to widespread confusion, delays and increased costs for aggregates producers.
For years, NSSGA has advocated for a more reasonable rule that excludes dry stream beds, ditches and other marginal waters that have little impact on flowing waters. It says the revised rule better aligns with the Clean Water Act and Supreme Court decisions by including navigable waters, adjacent wetlands and tributaries as waters that are federally regulated.
‘The scope of federal jurisdiction over waters has been confusing for years, causing permitting delays. The implementation of the 2015 WOTUS rule made matters worse,’ said NSSGA Environmental Committee chairman Mark Williams of Luck Companies.
‘We are pleased that the new rule provides important environmental protection of waters that need it most, while ensuring clarity to aggregates producers like Luck. It’s important that both the regulators and NSSGA members are able to understand when a federal permit is required, so we can continue to provide materials for vital infrastructure projects.’
NSSGA’s president and chief executive officer, Michael W. Johnson, added: ‘NSSGA members have worked for years to get a WOTUS rule that aligns with congressional intent by providing necessary protections while allowing aggregates producers the regulatory certainty by which to plan and operate their businesses and provide the necessary infrastructure projects America needs.’