Biden Administration to Propose New Federal Clean-Water Regulation

EPA seeks to undo Trump-era rules that eased permit requirements


By Gabriel T. Rubin and Katy Stech Ferek, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ)

Jun 9, 2021 


The Biden administration has plans to roll out a new proposal for federal clean-water regulations, working to undo moves by the Trump administration that had eased permit requirements for landowners.


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday said it plans to start a regulatory process alongside the Justice Department to revise a Trump administration rule that the Biden administration says has reduced clean water protections. A new rule would restore protections put in place by prior administrations, with a special emphasis on projects in arid Western states like New Mexico and Arizona.


“We are committed to establishing a durable definition of ‘waters of the United States’ based on Supreme Court precedent and drawing from the lessons learned from the current and previous regulations,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a statement.


Under former President Donald Trump, EPA regulators limited the scope of federal clean-water protections. The rollback took effect in all but one state in June 2020. According to the Army, whose civil works division handles major waterway development and management projects, the Trump-era EPA rule has led to a 25 percentage-point reduction in “determinations of waters that would otherwise be afforded protection.”


Since then, regulators at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who receive requests from landowners and property developers who want to fill in wetlands and want to know if federal protections apply, have looked to the Trump-era guidelines as they make that determination...