In a move as intricate as a surgeon’s touch, the Biden administration unveiled a restructured water rule on Tuesday, reshaping the terrain of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act (CWA).
This audacious pivot comes hot on the heels of a U.S. Supreme Court judgment earlier this year which essentially trimmed the expansive wings of the federal government’s jurisdiction over the nation’s waters.
Wetlands’ Role in the National Waterscape Reimagined
It’s a bit like redefining borders on a map; the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers presented their new conclusive rule.
This policy sidestepped the customary public discourse, setting a fresh benchmark for wetlands’ classification under the CWA.
Remember the Sackett v. EPA verdict from May? The apex court clipped the wings of the former, more generous interpretation, putting a tighter leash on the wetlands dubbed as “waters of the U.S.”
Picturing wetlands now is like envisaging select VIPs at an elite club. To be considered WOTUS or under jurisdiction, they must mirror “relatively permanent, standing or continuously flowing bodies of water,” that also boast an unbroken surface liaison with bodies considered as “waters of the United States.”
EPA Unveils New Water Rule : Narrowing the Playing Field
Streams find their reach curtailed and the waters deemed as “adjacent” wetlands have a tighter boundary.