EPA and the Army Corps' Proposed 'Waters of the United States' Rule: Congressional Response and Options [May 26, 2015]   [open pdf - 275KB]

"In April 2014, the Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) jointly proposed to amend the existing rules that define the scope of waters protected under the Clean Water Act (CWA). Discharges to waters under CWA jurisdiction, such as the addition of pollutants from factories or sewage treatment plants and the dredging and filling of spoil material through mining or excavation, require a CWA permit. The rule was proposed in light of Supreme Court rulings in 2001 and 2006 that created uncertainty about the geographic limits of waters that are and are not protected by the CWA. The rule would replace EPA-Corps guidance that has governed permitting decisions since the Court's rulings. According to EPA and the Corps, their intent was to clarify CWA jurisdiction, not expand it. Nevertheless, the proposal has been extremely controversial, especially with groups representing property owners, land developers, and agriculture, who contend that it represents a massive federal overreach beyond the agencies' statutory authority. Most state and local officials are supportive of clarifying the extent of CWA-regulated waters, but some are concerned that the rule could impose costs on states and localities as their own actions become subject to new requirements. Most environmental advocacy groups welcomed the proposal, which would more clearly define U.S. waters that are subject to CWA protections, but beyond that general support, some in these groups favor an even stronger rule."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, R43943
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