Federal Development: New Clean Water Act Rule
On May 25, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (“USACE”) finalized the Clean Water Rule to further ensure that waters to be protected under the Clean Water Act (“CWA”) are more accurately defined and determined.
As to the impact on businesses and industry, the certainty that results from this development should have a positive impact, make the permitting process less costly, easier to complete, and result in quicker case turn around. The Clean Water Rule provides clarity on the scope and parameters related to protections under the CWA with the intent of reducing or even eliminating the uncertainty of certain definitions which caused controversy and even litigation for the past decade.
Among other things, the Clean Water Rule:
- provides a clear definition and protection for navigable waterways and their tributaries;
- gives certainty in how far safeguards extend to nearby waters;
- protects regional waters;
- focus on streams;
- maintains the status of waters within Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (“MS4’s”); and
- reduces the use of case-specific analysis of waters.
The Clean Water Rule will be effective sixty (60) days after publication in the Federal Register.1 According to the EPA, current Guidance on Waters of the U.S. will remain in effect until sixty (60) days following publication of the Clean Water Rule.
Given the significant impact of this new rule, we believe that this development may interest you. To further discuss or obtain additional information on how this development may impact your operations, please feel free to contact us at your convenience.
1 Please note that the Clean Water Rule is pending publication in the Federal Registry.