Regulations that sought to dramatically expand federal jurisdiction over virtually all the nation's waters and wetlands are on the way out.
The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Sept. 12 released a final rule repealing the 2015 Waters of the United States rule, which co-ops and the courts had criticized as overly broad and costly.
NRECA applauded the agencies' action.
"The 2015 rule would have increased costs and regulatory hurdles for electric co-ops to build and maintain critical infrastructure without providing meaningful environmental benefits," said NRECA CEO Jim Matheson. "We support repeal of the rule and its eventual replacement with sensible regulation that provides clarity and recognizes the important role of states in managing our water resources."
The proposed regulation was troubled from the start. It was stayed by 28 states as several courts considered its legality. Federal district courts in Texas and Georgia sent the rule back to EPA and the Corps to correct its multiple conflicts with the Clean Water Act and Administrative Procedures Act.
"Repealing the rule eliminates the current patchwork of standards governing jurisdictional waters resulting from stays of the 2015 rule in more than half the states," Matheson said.
The repeal takes effect 60 days after its publication in the Federal Register. EPA and the Corps are expected to issue a final replacement rule by early 2020.
In comments earlier this year, NRECA backed the proposed WOTUS replacement, saying it "strikes the appropriate balance" between protecting water resources and preserving states' rights.