Clean Water Act Advances to White House for Final Review

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army corps of Engineers have sent a final draft of the Clean Water Act rule to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review. The federal agencies have renamed the “Waters of the U.S.” proposed rule and made revisions to address concerns raised in more than one million public comments submitted on the rule.

According to the federal agencies, key changes include “improving the explanation of how protected waters are significant; defining ‘tributaries, not ditches’; and preserving Clean Water Act exclusions and exemptions for agriculture and others.” OMB is not bound to a schedule for releasing the final rule, but expects to take more than the customary 90 days to complete its review of this controversial rule.

Meanwhile, opposition to the rule is growing on Capitol Hill where a procedural vote in the Senate two weeks ago indicated that there are probably sufficient votes to stop the rule. The House Natural Resources Committee has scheduled another hearing for April 14 to focus on this rule and other “Proposed Federal Water Grabs and Their Potential Impacts on States, Water, and Power Users, and Landowners.”