“We are taking significant action to return power to the states and provide regulatory certainty to our nation’s farmers and businesses,” said Administrator Scott Pruitt. “This is the first step in the two-step process to redefine ‘waters of the U.S.’ and we are committed to moving through this re-evaluation to quickly provide regulatory certainty, in a way that is thoughtful, transparent and collaborative with other agencies and the public.”

This proposed rule follows the February 28 Presidential Executive Order to review the WOTUS Rule. The rule will recodify the identical regulatory text that was in place prior to the 2015 Clean Water Rule and is currently in place as a result of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit’s stay of the 2015 rule. When finalized, the rule will not change current practice with respect to how the definition applies.

The agencies have also begun deliberations and outreach on the rulemaking involving a re-evaluation and revision of the definition of “waters of the United States” in accordance with the Executive Order.

“The army, together with the Corps of Engineers, is committed to working closely with and supporting the EPA on these rulemakings,” said Douglas Lamont, senior official of the Army for Civil Works. “As we go through the rulemaking process, we will continue to make the implementation of the Clean Water Act Section 404 regulatory program as transparent as possible for the regulated public.”

National Mining Association President and CEO applauded the proposal. “This sets in motion a welcome correction to a deeply problematic regulation that ignored the careful balance that Congress struck between federal and state water regulation and constitutional limits on federal authority,” Quinn said.

“Under the guise of clarifying federal Clean Water Act jurisdiction, the WOTUS rule impermissibly expanded federal jurisdiction to virtually any standing body of water — from roadside drainage ditches to local green energy projects.”