Efforts to delay implementation of the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule were invalidated by lower court. Last year, the Trump administration attempted to delay the rule for two years. But this effort was rejected by several district court judges, who ruled that the administration did not follow proper procedures to suspend the implementation of an existing regulation. The administration appealed, but on March 8 announced it would drop its challenges in federal appeals courts the 4th and 9th Circuits.

The cases are S.C. Coastal Conserv. League v. Wheeler, 4th Cir., No. 18-01988, motion to dismiss, 3/8/19, and Puget Soundkeeper All. v. Wheeler, 9th Cir., No. 19-35074, motion to dismiss, 3/8/19. 

This means the WOTUS rule—which redefines which bodies of water are regulated by federal anti-pollution laws — will remain in effect for the foreseeable future in more than 20 states. The rule is blocked from taking effect in other states by prior legal rulings.

However, while the administration has now abandoned its bid to use the courts to delay the implementation of the WOTUS rule protecting wetlands and waterways, this legal action may merely be a prelude to regulatory steps that would have the same effect.

The Trump administration has been working for months on a new regulatory action that would repeal the WOTUS rule permanently (RIN: 2040-AF74). This repeal is scheduled to take effect later this month, according to the website of the White House Office of Management and Budget.  (Bloomberg BNA, 3/9/19)

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This Week in Washington is an online news portal from the Water Environment Federation that provides updates on the latest legislative and regulatory developments that affect the water and wastewater communities. It provides concise reports of related bills, regulations, legal decisions, congressional hearings, and other federal government actions, following key issues from introduction to final determination.

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This Week in Washington is compiled by the WEF Government Affairs department. Please contact us with any questions or comments.

Claudio Ternieden
Senior Director of Government Affairs & Strategic Partnerships

Steve Dye
Legislative Director

Amy Kathman
Government Affairs Specialist