EPA and the Army Corps' Rule to Define 'Waters of the United States' [January 5, 2017] [open pdf - 1MB]
"On May 27, 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) jointly announced a final rule defining the scope of waters protected under the Clean Water Act (CWA). [...] According to the agencies, the new rule revises the existing administrative definition of 'waters of the United States' consistent with the CWA, legal rulings, the agencies' expertise and experience, 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. Waters that are 'jurisdictional' are subject to the multiple regulatory requirements of the CWA. Non-jurisdictional waters are not subject to those requirements. This report describes the final revised rule--which the agencies refer to as the Clean Water Rule. It includes a table comparing the existing regulatory language that defines 'waters of the United States' with the revisions. The rule is particularly focused on clarifying the regulatory status of surface waters located in isolated places in a landscape. It does not modify some categories of waters that are jurisdictional under existing rules [...] Challenges to the rule were filed in multiple federal district and appellate courts by industry groups, more than half of the states, and several environmental groups. The rule became effective on August 28, 2015, but on October 9, 2015, a federal court blocked the rule's implementation nationwide. The legal question of which federal court should review the challenges to the rule remains in limbo."
CRS Report for Congress, R43455
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html