On Sept. 12, the United States Environmental Protection Agency, in conjunction with the Army for Civil Works, repealed a 2015 Obama-era rule that expanded the “Waters of the United States” definition.
Prior to the is rule, the Navigable Waters Act had the authority to regulate any waterway that could transport goods by vessel. However, the Obama Administration believed that the WOTUS definition should also include smaller waterways such as streams, ditches, puddles and other bodies of water that the agency deemed within their purview. In 2015, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce signed a business coalition letter to oppose the expansion of WOTUS jurisdiction. The Ohio Chamber of Commerce was concerned about this patchwork definition due to the adverse effects it could have on the greater business community. Any body of water considered to be a WOTUS under this definition could have added significant regulatory delays and challenges to commercial activity.
The Trump Administration is currently working on a two-step plan that will clearly specify what constitutes a “Water of the United States”. The first step is to create more certainty for the regulated community by repealing the 2015 rule. In step two of the process, the Trump Administration will implement the new proposed WOTUS definition and distinctly outline what is considered a state water versus a federal water.
This action by the Administration is a win for Ohio’s citizens, businesses and the Ohio Chamber of Commerce’s member companies.