During the golden age of discovery, an explorer arriving at the mouth of an unknown river would plant his country’s flag and claim all lands drained by that river for his sovereign. In modern times, there is no need for any flags or ocean voyages. Our sovereign simply publishes a proposed rule to accomplish the same thing.
The Clean Water Act (CWA) prohibits discharges of dredged or fill material into “navigable waters,” which are defined in the CWA as the “waters of the United States.” Regulations published by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) provide an expansive definition of waters of the United States, which serves to delineate the scope of the Corps’ jurisdiction under the CWA over those waters, which include wetlands. A permit from the Corps is required to place material in wetlands or other waters deemed jurisdictional.
The Corps has released a proposed rule that provides an even more expansive definition of U.S. waters, which serves to expand its jurisdiction over tributaries and wetlands far removed from any traditional navigable waters. If the proposed rule becomes final as written, permits will be required for activities in areas that were not previously regulated and that could be dozens of miles from navigable waterways. Continue reading “EPA, U.S. Corps Assert Jurisdiction over Isolated Waters, Wetlands”