Executive Order Asks EPA to Reconsider WOTUS

President Trump ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to review and reconsider the controversial Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule.

The executive order does not require EPA to rescind WOTUS, a rule that drastically expanded the EPA’s jurisdiction of lands deemed to be bodies of water – even on private land – under vague definitions and measurements. It has been under a nationwide stay from the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals since 2015, shortly after it was enacted.

“This is a positive step toward ending the threat of this gross overreach of an agency’s jurisdiction,” said Michael W. Johnson, National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA) president and CEO.

NSSGA has long advocated against the ill-conceived rule that posed serious threats to the aggregates industry as well as taxpayers everywhere. Operators would face additional, costly federal permitting, correction or mitigation, which in turn would cause increased delays and cost overruns for critical public-works projects.

NSSGA also filed a lawsuit against EPA to combat the rule, a step that industry groups and more than half of the states took. Yet, these litigants have not been the only opponents or critics of WOTUS.

Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio) and 36 cosponsors said that the sense of the U.S. House of Representatives is that the Waters of the U.S. rule be withdrawn, via a resolution introduced on Feb. 27.

Additionally, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee previously said the rulemaking process “was rife with legal shortcuts, predetermined conclusions, and politically-driven timelines.” 

The Corps criticized the EPA in 2015 for creating a rule that they would have difficulty supporting, understanding and enforcing in the field. The Government Accountability Office said that EPA broke federal anti-lobbying laws by generating public and congressional support for the rule with a social media campaign.

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