“Waters of the U.S.” Rule, Public Comments Exceed 11,000

DTN writer Todd Neeley reported on Friday that, “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has yet to decide whether to grant a request by a number of Democratic senators to extend by 90 days the public comment period on a proposed rollback of the waters of the United States, or WOTUS, rule, an agency spokesperson told DTN on Friday.

“In a July 17, 2017, letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Douglas Lamont, deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a group of 22 senators asked the agencies to extend the comment period.”

Mr. Neeley explained that, “As of Friday, EPA had received more than 11,000 public comments ahead of the Aug. 28 deadline on a proposal to reset the clean water rule back to pre-2015 language — prior to the final WOTUS rule. Of those comments, just 330 have been posted to regulations.gov. Most of those are anonymous and so far just one agriculture group’s comments have been posted.

“The agency announced it would attempt to better define ‘navigable waters’ in what is expected to be a two-part effort. The current proposal would revert the rule back to pre-2015, before the EPA finalized the WOTUS rule.

“The second part of the agency’s plan includes then re-writing the rule. As part of that effort, the agency already has reached out to governors in all 50 states to seek input.”

The DTN article added that, “Interestingly, the senators asked the agency to extend the comment period by 90 days as it did for the 2015 WOTUS rule, although the current proposal essentially changes nothing in terms of how the Clean Water Act currently is enforced. The WOTUS rule is on a stay nationally, pending lawsuits. This means enforcement of the CWA already has reverted back to the pre-2015 regulation.”

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