WOTUS Hearing Calls Scheduled

EPA, Army Corps Planning Stakeholder Conference Calls to Rewrite WOTUS Rule

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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Cattle walk across the Elkhorn River in eastern Nebraska. EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be holding conference calls to rewrite the rules defining waters of the U.S. (DTN file photo by Chris Clayton)

OMAHA (DTN) -- The Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are planning a series of teleconferences this fall for stakeholder industries and groups to offer their recommendations on how to define "waters of the U.S." under the Clean Water Act.

The agencies right now are in the middle of an extended comment period to rescind the rule and definition for waters of the U.S., known as WOTUS, created by the Obama administration in 2015 and delayed by the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals out of Cincinnati, Ohio. President Donald Trump signed an executive order in February putting in motions the move to withdraw the rule. The comment period for that rule reversal has been extended to Sept. 27.

After the comment period ends, EPA and the Corps will propose a new definition for waters of the U.S. The agencies note that President Trump's executive order directs EPA and the Army Corps to interpret waters of the U.S. as "navigable waters" consistent with an opinion written by now-deceased Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in a 2006 case. Scalia's opinion considers jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act to include permanent waters and wetlands with a continuous surface connection to relatively permanent waters.

Citing "intense interest from a broad array of stakeholders," EPA and the Corps on Monday will publish in the Federal Register a schedule of 10 teleconferences for various stakeholders to weigh in on new revision of the WOTUS rule and approaches to define waters of the U.S. Among those 10 teleconferences will be one specifically for agriculture on Oct. 17.

The full schedule for the teleconferences includes:

-- Sept. 19 -- small entities (small businesses, small organizations and small governmental jurisdictions)

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-- Sept. 26 -- environment and public advocacy

-- Oct. 3 -- conservation, e.g., hunters and anglers

-- Oct. 10 -- construction and transportation

-- Oct. 17 -- agriculture

-- Oct. 24 ­-- industry

-- Oct. 31 -- mining

-- Nov. 7 -- scientific organizations and academia

-- Nov. 14 -- stormwater, wastewater management and drinking water agencies

-- Nov. 21 -- open to general public

Each meeting will be from noon to 2 p.m. Central Daylight Time. Registration for each teleconference/webinar is on a first-come, first-served basis and will close a week prior to the event. Speakers will be limited to three minutes each.

Information on how to register for each meeting will be available at https://www.epa.gov/…. (The link will not go live until after the notice is published in the Federal Register on Monday.)

Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN

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Chris Clayton