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Whoa on WOTUS

RR022519 EnvironmentFeb. 25, 2019 – Aggregates producers have until April 15 to submit comments that support a clearer Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule. The comment period for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed WOTUS “replacement” rule is open until April 15. It was released in December 2018, but the federal government shutdown slowed the rule’s publication in the federal register, thereby extending the review period to more than 120 days. The National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA) and member companies opposed the 2015 WOTUS rule that would have allowed the federal government to regulate waters that have little or no connection to flowing rivers with comments, testimony, support for congressional action and, finally, litigation. This replacement proposal includes NSSGA’s suggestion that dry stream beds and isolated waters should not be federally regulated under the federal Clean Water Act (CWA).

NSSGA will be commenting favorably on the rule on behalf of the industry and will soon have a form letter for members to use to submit comments. Until then, it is important for companies to highlight specific examples of where the process of obtaining CWA permits from the Corps has been problematic in the past.

“For years, aggregates operations of all sizes have worked hard to let elected officials and government agencies know about our industry’s need for a clear rule that protects the nation’s waters,” said Michele Stanley, NSSGA vice president of government and regulatory affairs. “Our members have had to work through a lengthy and unpredictable permitting process in order to expand existing or open new operations. So the new rule should provide needed relief in order for our members to more easily produce materials for vital infrastructure projects."