NACD Government Affairs Update: Biden Administration To Review WOTUS Definition

By Mary Scott

On Wednesday, June 9, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Army announced their intent to revise the definition of Waters of the United States (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act (CWA).

A press release from the agencies states, “Today’s action reflects the agencies’ intent to initiate a new rulemaking process that restores the protections in place prior to the 2015 WOTUS implementation, and anticipates developing a new rule that defines WOTUS and is informed by a robust engagement process as well as the experience of implementing the pre-2015 rule, the Obama-era Clean Water Rule, and the Trump-era Navigable Waters Protection Rule.”

While no formal timeline is available yet, the agencies will use the following criteria when considering the revision:

  1.  Protecting water resources and our communities consistent with the Clean Water Act
  2.  The latest science and the effects of climate change on our waters
  3.  Emphasizing a rule with a practical implementation approach for state and tribal partners
  4.  Reflecting the experience of and input received from landowners, the agricultural community that fuels and feeds the world, states, tribes, local governments, community organizations, environmental groups, and disadvantaged communities with environmental justice concerns.

NACD has actively engaged in prior WOTUS rulemakings. In spring of 2019, NACD provided public comments supporting and providing feedback on the Navigable Waters Protection Rule. In a December 2020 letter to the Biden agency review team, NACD encouraged the administration to take a longer view of CWA jurisdiction and avoid simply repealing and replacing the current rule which will lead to further confusion among landowners. NACD will continue to monitor any changes to WOTUS and will provide updates accordingly

Mary Scott is NACD’s Natural Resource Policy Specialist and can be reached at mary-scott[at]


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