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Public comment period on Waters of the United States (WOTUS) ends Aug. 28th

The US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Army Corps of Engineers, under the new administration, are proposing to rescind the Waters of the US Rule, also known as the Clean Water Rule, that went into effect in 2015. You have a narrow window to comment if you wish (details below), but it closes in less than a month.

The process is taking place in two steps: The first will change the Code of Federal Regulations so that it contains the definition of “waters of the US” that was in place before the Clean Water Rule was issued. The second will put in place an even narrower definition that, the administration says, “is in line with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s opinion in the 2006 Rapanos v. United States case. Scalia’s definition explains that federal oversight should extend to ‘relatively permanent’ waters and wetlands with ‘a continuous surface connection’ to large rivers and streams.” Essentially, this would roll back protections on ephemeral streams and wetlands within floodplains that were originally covered by the Clean Water Act.

The public comment period for the first step opened last week. The deadline to submit a comment is August 28, 2017. Unlike some rules that have a longer window—often 90 or, in some cases, as long as 180 days—this one has just a 30-day public comment period. (A group of senators last month requested that EPA and the Corps of Engineers extend the comment period, but as yet the deadline has not moved.)

Use the link below to submit your comments. When you do, refer to Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2017-0203.