On Monday August 28, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of the Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) will announce they are conducting ten teleconferences/webinars to hear from stakeholders their recommendations to revise the definition of ‘‘Waters of the United States’’ under the Clean Water Act (CWA).
Nine of the teleconferences/webinars will be tailored to a specific sector, i.e., agriculture (row crop, livestock, silviculture); conservation (hunters and anglers); small entities (small businesses, small organizations, small jurisdictions); construction and transportation; environment and public advocacy (including health and environmental justice); mining; industry (energy, chemical, oil/gas); scientific organizations and academia; and stormwater, wastewater management, and drinking water agencies. One of the teleconferences will be open to the public at large.
The teleconferences will run throughout the fall on Tuesdays from 1:00 p.m.–3:00 p.m. eastern time, beginning on September 19, 2017. The dates of the teleconferences and sector are below:
- Tuesday, September 19, 2017- small entities (small businesses, small organizations and small governmental jurisdictions);
- Tuesday, September 26, 2017- environment and public advocacy;
- Tuesday, October 3, 2017- conservation, e.g., hunters and anglers;
- Tuesday, October 10, 2017- construction and transportation;
- Tuesday, October 17, 2017- agriculture;
- Tuesday, October 24, 2017- industry;
- Tuesday, October 31, 2017- mining;
- Tuesday, November 7, 2017- scientific organizations and academia;
- Tuesday, November 14, 2017- stormwater, wastewater management and drinking water agencies; and
- Tuesday, November 21, 2017-open to general public.
Information on how to register for each of these meetings is available on the EPA Web site at https://www.epa.gov/wotus-rule/outreach-meetings. Registration for each webinar will close a week prior. Persons or organizations wishing to provide verbal recommendations during the teleconference will be selected on a first-come, first-serve basis. Due to the expected volume of participants, individuals will be asked to limit their oral presentation to three minutes.
In addition, EPA and the USACE will hold an in-person meeting with small entities on October 23, 2017 from 9:00 a.m.–11 a.m. at the U.S. EPA’s Headquarters located at 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20003. To facilitate the building security process, and to request reasonable accommodation, those who wish to attend must contact Joan B. Rogers (202–564–6568 or [email protected]), no later than Friday, October 13, 2017. RSVPs will be accepted until October 13, or until room capacity has been reached (100 max), whichever occurs first.
Submit Written Recommendations
Written recommendations from any member of the public will be accepted. Written recommendation must be received on or before November 28, 2017. Submit your recommendations, identified by “Docket ID No. EPA–HQ–OW–2017–0480,” at http://www.regulations.gov. EPA and USACE will not be formally responding to recommendations.
On February 28, 2017, the President issued an Executive Order (E.O.) ‘‘Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the ‘‘Waters of the United States’’ Rule’’. The E.O. directs EPA and USACE to review the Clean Water Rule for consistency with these priorities and publish for notice and comment a proposed rule rescinding or revising the rule, as appropriate and consistent with law. The E.O. directs the agencies to consider interpreting the term ‘‘navigable waters,’’ as defined in 33 U.S.C. 1362(7), in a manner consistent with the opinion of Justice Antonin Scalia in Rapanos v. United States, 547 U.S. 715 (2006). Justice Scalia’s opinion considers CWA jurisdiction as including relatively permanent waters and wetlands with a continuous surface connection to relatively permanent waters.
The E.O. is being implemented by the EPA and USACE in a two step process. The first step was a Proposed Rule issued on July 27, 2017, that re-codifies the regulation that was in place prior to issuance of the Clean Water Rule and that is being implemented now under the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit’s stay of that rule. The comment period for this first step proposed rule is open until September 27, 2017.
For the second step, the agencies plan to propose a new definition that would replace the approach in the 2015 Clean Water Rule with one that is consistent with the approach outlined in the E.O. The meetings above will provide interested stakeholders opportunity to provide pre-proposal feedback on this second step to revise the definition of ‘‘waters of the U.S.’’
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