Input Critical to Rule on Waters of the U.S.

There are common driving forces behind all of our work here at EPA. We work to protect human health and the environment. We follow the law and the best science available. And the other critical factor that we always rely on is public input. When this agency is considering an action, we listen very carefully to all stakeholders.

This is certainly the case with the proposed rule to clarify protections for streams and wetlands under the Clean Water Act. Protection for these waters has been confusing and complex for the past decade as the result of Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006. So together with the Army Corps of Engineers, we recently proposed a rule to clarify protection for upstream waters that are vital to the health of downstream waterways and communities. Take a look at this video from EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to learn more about what this proposed rule means.

In large part, it was public input that led us to propose a rule. Since 2008, EPA and the Corps have received numerous requests for a rulemaking to provide clarity on protections under the Clean Water Act from members of Congress, state and local officials, industry, agriculture, environmental groups, scientists, and the public.

In developing the proposed rule, we consulted extensively with stakeholders for the past three to four years. In particular, EPA and the Corps listened to important input from the agriculture community and worked with USDA to ensure their concerns were addressed. The agencies also hosted a series of discussions with state, local and tribal leaders. With the assistance of the Office of Management and Budget and the Small Business Administration, we also received input from the business community.

Additionally, we carefully considered about 415,000 comments we received since the Supreme Court decisions. All of this public input helped to shape the EPA and the Corps’ thinking on the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act reflected in the proposal.

Now that the proposed rule has been released, we are launching another round of robust engagement with the full spectrum of parties. We will be holding discussions across the country, asking questions and gathering input needed to make final decisions on Clean Water Act protections. We are also accepting public comment on the proposed rule for 90 days once it publishes. The discussions and comments will play a fundamental role in shaping the final rule and determining protection for our nation’s streams and wetlands. We hope to hear from you.

Click here to learn more about our proposed rule for the Clean Water Act.