President Trump signed an Executive Order that begins to unwind the Obama administration’s controversial Clean Water Rule. Also known as the Waters of the U.S. rule, or WOTUS, the regulation was written by U.S. EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to clarify the reach of the federal government over wetlands and waterways under the Clean Water Act.
While the executive order cannot repeal WOTUS, which was finalized in May 2015, the Executive Order will direct EPA and the Army Corps to begin a formal review of the regulation, an important first step to dismantling it. Withdrawing WOTUS will have a significant impact on the real estate sector, especially real estate development.
NAR has strongly opposed the rule to eliminate the need for costly and time-consuming permits on waters that were previously unregulated by the federal government. The rule has been stayed nationwide by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals pending additional litigation and technical procedures.
The Executive Order also directs the EPA to begin a rewrite of the regulation to adhere more closely to the definition of “waters of the U.S.” under the Clean Water Act and provide a streamlined permitting process to provide clarity and certainty to the private sector while protecting the integrity and quality of the country’s water resources.