Regulatory Update   |   Jul 20th, 2015 “Waters of the U.S.” Rule Creates Uncertainty, Permitting Challenges


On May 27, 2015, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Army finalized the Clean Water Rule (CWR), described as a definitional regulation to clarify the scope of “waters of the United States” consistent with the Clean Water Act, Supreme Court precedent, and science.

EPA asserts that CWR’s scope is narrower than that under existing regulations, so that fewer waters will be defined as “waters of the United States.”

TRC’s latest Regulatory Update addresses:

  • Rule history and background
  • New CWR definitions
  • CWR exclusions
  • Business Impacts
  • Tips for Success

Effective on August 28, 2015, the Rule’s intent is to bring regulatory consistency among the states and reduce permitting times and costs for businesses and industry. While CWR provides a base of definition for implementing the Clean Water Act, States may continue to require additional levels of permitting stringency.

Although many environmental stakeholders applaud the Rule, over half of U.S. states and some business organizations interpret CWR as significantly and improperly expanding the reach of EPA’s authority. As of July 14, 2015, 28 States have filed lawsuits seeking that the rule be vacated.

How quickly the Courts address the lawsuits will likely add to the current uncertainty about the rule implementation. Many opponents are calling for Congress to resolve the issue by keeping EPA from moving forward on the rule.

Despite the uncertainty, businesses can and should prepare now to minimize project permitting delays and expense.

Please download TRC’s latest Regulatory Update for more information.