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EPA administrator talks Waters of the United States at Bismarck roundtable

Dave Thompson
Prairie Public

The administrator of the federal Environmental Protection Agency said he expects a new “Waters of the United States” rule to be written by winter.

Andrew Wheeler was in Bismarck for a roundtable discussion on WOTUS.

The rule, as promulgated by the Obama Administration, was struck down in the courts. North Dakota was one of the lead states to file suit.

Wheeler’s agency has been working on a rewrite based on that ruling.

"My over-arching goal to my staff in drafting a new definition, is that a property owner should be able to stand on his or her property, and be able to tell for themselves whether or not they have a federal waterway without having to hire an outside consultant or attorney to tell them," Wheeler told reporters after the roundtable. "If people understand what the regulations are, they understand what the definition is, it will be accepted, and people will move forward. And we will have the regulatory certainty everyone wants and needs."

After the new rule is released, there will be a comment period. Wheeler said he expects it too will also be a subject of lawsuits.

"What we can do is more forward with a new definition that one, follows the Clean Water Act, and two, follows the Supreme Court cases -- so that the courts will understand we're following the law," Wheeler said. "Ultimately, if it goes before the Supreme Court, we have a definition that will be upheld."

Those attending the roundtable said the earlier WOTUS rule was an overreach.

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