Now that President Trump has ordered an extensive review of the “waters of the United States (WOTUS)” definitions in the Clean Water Act, many NAHB members have questions about how this executive order changes the stormwater and wetlands permitting processes they have been following all along – and what the next steps are.
Let’s go to our resident WOTUS specialist: NAHB Environmental Policy Program Manager Owen McDonough, PhD.
Owen, what are the rules now – what has changed? For builders, not much. First, the new WOTUS rule never really had an opportunity to actually take hold. It was suspended by a federal court ruling just weeks after being finalized in 2015. What this new executive order means is that EPA and the Corps must take a giant step back and thoroughly review the flawed rule.
The current rule is not very clear, doesn’t take into account the need for economic growth and oversteps the rights of states to make decisions within their own borders. It fundamentally attempts to expand Clean Water Act requirements beyond what Congress originally intended while at the same time ignoring Supreme Court decisions.
So until EPA and the Corps finish their task of fixing or replacing the WOTUS rule, it’s business as usual. The Clean Water Act and all its requirements remain in place. Builders and developers must get permits just as they always have.