EPA and the Army Corps' Proposed Rule to Define 'Waters of the United States' [October 9, 2014] [open pdf - 370KB]
"On March 25, 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) jointly proposed a rule defining the scope of waters protected under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The proposal would revise regulations that have been in place for more than 25 years. Revisions are proposed in light of 2001 and 2006 Supreme Court rulings that interpreted the regulatory scope of the CWA more narrowly than previously, but created uncertainty about the precise effect of the Court's decisions. In 2011, EPA and the Corps proposed guidance on policies for determining CWA jurisdiction to replace guidance issued in 2003 and 2008; all were intended to lessen confusion over the Court's rulings. The 2011 proposed guidance was extremely controversial, with some contending that it represented an overreach beyond the agencies' statutory authority. Most environmental groups welcomed the proposed guidance, although some would have preferred a stronger document. The 2014 proposed rule would replace the existing guidance, which remains in effect because the 2011 proposed guidance was not finalized. According to the agencies, the proposed rule would revise the existing administrative definition of 'waters of the United States' consistent with legal rulings and science concerning the interconnectedness of tributaries, wetlands, and other waters and effects of these connections on the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of downstream waters."
CRS Report for Congress, R43455