Trump Administration Unveils Waters of the U.S. Rule Replacement

The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers unveiled their replacement to the Obama-era 2015 Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) Rule.

The proposed new rule appears to provide a much more reasonable approach to the limits of Clean Water Act jurisdiction for waters of the U.S.  However, AFS said the details of the new rule require careful review to determine how it will impact metalcasting operations. 

AFS welcomes the proposal, as it narrows the expansive scope of the 2015 rule, providing relief to manufacturers, including foundries, agriculture, energy and homebuilding industry stakeholders. The society will review the proposed rule with the Water and Waste Committee and develop comments for AFS to submit on the rule.

The 2015 rule would have imposed burdensome regulations limiting the ability of metalcasters to upgrade, expand, or build new facilities in certain areas. The old rule also would have required expensive federal permits, and hurt various jurisdictions trying to complete infrastructure projects like roads, bridges, and transmission lines.

The revised rule defines fewer bodies as Waters of the U.S., thereby reducing the bodies of water subject to federal regulation. The EPA lays out six categories of waterways which will be regulated under the CWA and excludes all others. The categories include “traditional navigable waters, tributaries to those waters, certain ditches, certain lakes and ponds, impoundments of jurisdictional waters, and wetlands adjacent to jurisdictional waters.”

The new proposal also would clearly define the difference between federally protected waterways and those protected by states, and would help landowners more easily determine whether a project on their property requires a federal permit.

In 2017, AFS welcomed President Donald Trump’s executive order instructing EPA to rescind the onerous 2015 WOTUS rule and has joined on multiple sets of comments over the past four years to EPA and policymakers. The Obama-era rule is currently in effect in about half of the country’s states, due to lawsuits challenging it. AFS looks forward to working on this proposed regulation with EPA officials and the administration.