March 9, 2017
On February 28th, President Trump issued an executive order directing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to review the definition of Waters of the United States (WOTUS) and make modifications as necessary. The executive order does not repeal any rules or parts of rules, but only instructs the agencies to review the language.
Bodies of water designated as WOTUS are subject to federal regulations under the Clean Water Act. The definition of WOTUS was published in 2015 and was immediately met with pushback claiming it was overreaching. Due to the broad nature of the WOTUS definition, some argue it could be interpreted to include temporary puddles that occasionally fill with water. If so, property owners could theoretically be required to obtain expensive federal permits when dealing with puddles.
In January, 2017 the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear National Association of Manufacturers, Petitioner v. Department of Defense, et al. challenging the Clean Water Rule. A date has not yet been set for oral arguments, but the decision is expected to be handed down before June. The case is not challenging the Clean Water Act itself, but the jurisdiction of courts hearing cases regarding the Act.