Environmental Law

Envt'l Law News Spring 2016, Vol. 25, No. 1

The New Federal Clean Water Rule

by David Pettit*

Some years ago, I asked a lawyer friend what the definition of "wetland" was. He said: "Land that is wet."

Not exactly.

On April 21, 2014, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) published in the Federal Register1 a proposed new rule defining the term "Waters of the United States" under the federal Clean Water Act (Act).2 This proposal and its accompanying guidance for agricultural operations were immediately assailed by a parade of industry groups.3 On June 29, 2015, the final rule – Clean Water Rule: Definition of Waters of the United States – was published in the Federal Register (Clean Water Rule or New Rule).4 Shortly thereafter, the expected flood of litigation challenging the New Rule commenced.5

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