NFIB Applauds EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ for Rescinding Expansive Obama-Era Rule

Date: September 12, 2019

Washington, D.C. (Sept. 12, 2019) – NFIB applauds the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers’ final rule repealing the Obama era Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. This decision ensures national uniformity for enforcement of the Clean Water Act and restores the preexisting rules that were in place before the Obama Administration attempted its controversial expansion of Clean Water Act regulation in 2015.

“The Obama era rule was shocking in its scope and breadth because it asserted federal reach over dry lands and lands that were only occasionally wet,” said Karen Harned, Executive Director of the NFIB Small Business Legal Center. “Today’s rule means that EPA and Army Corps will take a more reasoned approach to Clean Water Act regulation, consistent with historic practice—which means small business landowners can breathe a little easier. That said, we are still calling on the Administration to go further, and to bring clarity for the regulated community by drawing common sense and easy to understand lines for delineating federally regulated waters.”

In response to an executive order issued by President Trump, the EPA and the Army Corps issued a new proposed rule in December 2018. The new rule repeals the Obama-era rule and made it clear that Clean Water Act jurisdiction is limited and does not cover dry lands, or lands that are only occasionally wet. NFIB filed comments on the proposed new rule.

EPA and Army Corps are now working on a new “waters of the United States” definition in the next months, which promises to provide much-needed practical guidance to small businesses who have long struggled to understand whether they may safely use their lands. This is vital because landowners risk ruinous penalties of thousands of dollars in daily fines if they inadvertently violate the Clean Water Act, even though it is notoriously difficult to determine whether private property is (or is not) subject to federal regulation. 

The NFIB Small Business Legal Center protects the rights of small business owners in the nation’s courts. NFIB is currently active in more than 40 cases in federal and state courts across the country and in the U.S. Supreme Court.

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