After years of muddied waters, the Trump Administration’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule, offered clarity and definition of what a “navigable water” is to the issue of Waters of the United States (WOTUS) and the Clean Water Act (CWA), brought relief to forest landowners, farmers, small businesses and others. However, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers recently released a proposed rule to re-establish the pre-2015 definition of WOTUS. The proposed rule would remove the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, which was finalized in 2020 and provided long-overdue certainty and clarity for forest landowners and farmers affected by the scope of WOTUS jurisdiction.
“We are frustrated that the EPA is returning to an overly complicated interim water rule and taking us backward to overreaching regulations by removing a rule that has provided certainty for forest landowners and others. FLA will continue to work with the agencies and advocate for a WOTUS definition that recognizes the work of private forest landowners to protect water quality and provides clarity about forest management and silviculture obligations under the Clean Water Act,” stated Scott Jones, Forest Landowners CEO.