EPA, Army Corps Propose New Rule to Govern Federal Clean Water Act Jurisdiction

Intended to clarify confusion from prior US Supreme Court decisions, the rules could have far-reaching implications for many stakeholders.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) jointly released a proposed rule on March 25, 2014 which would represent the most sweeping change in a generation to the rules governing federal Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction. Federal jurisdiction under the CWA extends to a variety of activities including dredging, filling, discharging pollutants, reporting hazardous substances releases and oil spill control. Stakeholders of all types — industry, agriculture, real estate development, oil and gas, utilities and municipal government — will want to remain informed of the scope of the proposed changes and their impact on business practices, regulated activity and environmental protection. This Client Alert summarizes the provisions of the proposed rule and provides a comparison with the current regulatory regime. The agencies are soliciting comments, which may be submitted within 90 days when the formal comment period opens upon publication of the proposed rule in the Federal Register. Publication had not yet occurred as of Monday, April 7, 2014.

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