Legal morass muddies waters on ‘waters of the United States’ rule


A recent ruling by the U.S. District Court for South Carolina means that for the foreseeable future, roughly half of U.S. states will be abiding by one set of rules pertaining to waters of the United States while the rest will abide by different rules.

A brief background:

Between 1986 and 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operated under the 1986 definition of the Clean Water Act term “waters of the United States.”

In August 2015, the EPA promulgated a new definition of waters of the United States that was known as the WOTUS rule. Litigation ensued in multiple courts around the country. Soon thereafter, the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit enjoined the WOTUS rule nationwide, which prevented its implementation. Thus, the 1986 definition was still in effect.



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