WASHINGTON, DC -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced yesterday that they plan to rescind the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule of 2015 and temporarily revert back to the rule in place prior to 2015. This action follows the February 28, 2017, Executive Order titled, “Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the ‘Waters of the United States’ Rule" and reverts back to the status quo policy.
The 2015 WOTUS was never fully implemented and growers should not see any changes in EPA enforcement with this action.
This is the first step in a two-step process to repeal WOTUS and replace it with a revised definition of "Waters of the U.S." based on the Rapanos Supreme Court decision. This first action, to repeal the 2015 version, has yet to be published in the Federal Register, but once it publishes the public will have 30 days to submit comments on that action only.
EPA is currently working on step two, to revise the definition, and will solicit comment on the details of WOTUS in a separate rulemaking that may occur as early as December 2017.
USA Rice will submit comments detailing how the revision could affect the rice industry and what issues unique to rice they should take into consideration.