Implementation of Clean Water Jurisdictional Rule May Fall to States

As previously reported in SGR’s environmental and sustainability newsletter, the U.S. EPA and the U.S. Corps of Engineers jointly published a final clean water rule on June 29, 2015, intended to clarify the jurisdictional limits of federal water for purposes of the Clean Water Act. The rule, which takes effect on August 25, but which is considered final on July 13 for purposes of judicial review, is in danger of being unfunded by Congress when they return to session following the July 4 recess.

The House is set to vote on the fiscal year 2016 spending bill for the Interior Department, and a rider on the bill would strip the EPA of the funds to “develop, adopt, implement, administer, or enforce any change to regulations or guidance in effect on October 1, 2015” pertaining to the Waters of the U.S. definition. Absent federal guidance on the implementation of the final rule, states would be left on their own to interpret the rule, which could lead to widely divergent results based on individual state agency interpretation. If passed, the appropriations bill could directly impact a state’s ability to administer its own programs as the appropriations bill is also responsible for the grants which fund authorized states to run their Clean Water Program.

For more information, contact Phillip Hoover.

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