WOTUS Reconsidered?

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As we noted in December, one achievement of last year’s “Lame Duck” Omnibus Appropriations Bill was to compel the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw the controversial “interpretive rule” which it issued to clarify which water bodies are covered by its new “Waters of the United States” rule and which are not. Since the “interpretive rule” did not clarify much of anything but merely expanded the gray area for the exercise of EPA discretion, we were glad to see it go.

On January 7, the new Chairman of the Senate Environment & Public Works (EPW) Committee, Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), stated that EPW would place a special focus on the larger “Waters of the United States” rule and that EPW planned to hold a joint hearing with the corresponding House Committee—Transportation & Infrastructure—on or around February 4, on WOTUS. “It’s an issue that the more people hear about it, the more concerned they are,” he stated, adding that the Senate EPW Committee would likely shape a package of legislation addressing WOTUS and other EPA regulation, possibly using the “appropriations cycle.”