WOTUS Unravels from the Inside

Ray Vester, headshot
Aug 04, 2015
WASHINGTON, DC - Last week the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform released more than 50 pages of documents, some labeled "litigation sensitive," in which the Army Corps of Engineers sometimes strongly disagreed with the U.S. EPA on the process of drafting the final Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule.  
The documents, that were not intended to be made public, tell a story of two agencies in disagreement over not only process, but the use of data, the definitions in the final rule, and the scientific and legal justifications for what EPA was doing.  
Some of the memos went so far as to seek removal of the Corp's logo from the final documents, as well as removing them as an "Author, co-author, or substantive contributor."   
Referring to specific points in the final rule, the memos stated that the "1,500 foot limitation is not supported by science or law" and the "4,000 foot bright line rule is not based on any principle of science, hydrology or law," rendering both therefore, "legally vulnerable."  
Perhaps more importantly, a Corps memo stated that the final rule was "Inconsistent with SWANCC and Rapanos," the two Supreme Court decisions on Clean Water Act regulations that the final WOTUS rule was supposed to clarify.
"These documents are pretty damaging to the Administration's notion that WOTUS is a good, common sense rule," said Ray Vester, an Arkansas rice farmer and chairman of USA Rice's Regulatory Affairs and Food Safety Committee "We'll continue to address the rule's legitimacy, and these documents provide a convenient roadmap to do so."