The Clean Water Act
The Obama administration’s Waters of the United States rule violates the clear language and intent of the 1972 Clean Water Act and Supreme Court rulings restricting the federal government’s control over ephemeral wetlands.
With the a new Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers, the Obama Administration has asserted federal jurisdiction over hundreds of millions of acres of private property in the United States. Under the rule, for example, 99 percent of Pennsylvania and Missouri may be subject to the EPA’s jurisdiction.
The EPA says its authority to regulate land uses that impact wetlands stems from the 1972 Clean Water Act (CWA) but the text of the CWA is clear federal jurisdiction is limited to waters that are navigable in fact or easily made navigable. By contrast, under WOTUS EPA and Corps assert federal jurisdiction over dry streambeds, man-made stock ponds, and nearly any wet area, even if it is wet only seasonally, or during a flood. WOTUS is a costly rule, currently stayed in federal court under challenge by a number of states for violating both the letter and spirit of the CWA and prior Supreme Court rulings limiting the federal government’s reach over non-navigable, purely intrastate, waters.