The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unveiled a new wetlands protection rule this Tuesday, modifying its stance following a recent Supreme Court decision on the scope of the Clean Water Act.
The adjusted Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule now necessitates a more definitive connection between protected wetlands and significant water bodies such as oceans and rivers. This change was prompted by the Sackett vs. EPA case, where the Supreme Court’s conservative majority determined that protections should be in place only where there’s a “continuous surface connection” to a safeguarded water body.
Michael Regan, the EPA Administrator, said the agency’s obligation to redefine the rule’s scope, stating, “We’ve moved quickly to finalize amendments to the definition of ‘waters of the United States’… EPA will never waver from our responsibility to ensure clean water for all. Moving forward, we will do everything we can with our existing authorities and resources to help communities, states, and Tribes protect the clean water upon which we all depend.”
This current verdict on the WOTUS rule follows closely after the EPA had put forth a preceding rule enhancing Trump-era guidelines. Several Republican governors had, earlier this year, pressed the administration to postpone the application of the prior rule, pending the court’s verdict.