New Waters of the United States Definition Provides Clarity and Predictability for Small Business Landowners

Date: February 06, 2020

Washington, D.C. (Jan. 23, 2020)NFIB released the following statement from Karen Harned, Executive Director of the NFIB Small Business Legal Center, in response to the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers’ announcement that they have finalized a new Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule to provide clarity and predictability in future enforcement of the Clean Water Act:

“This is exactly what the small business community has been calling for. The rules defining Clean Water Act jurisdiction and ‘waters of the United States’ have been convoluted and murky for far too long; so, today’s rule provides long-awaited relief for small business landowners. It provides clarity and predictability while protecting the environment at the same time.”

The announcement today is the second step in a two-step process following the rescission of the 2015 WOTUS rule, which had wrongly expanded federal authority over private property. Now, in this rulemaking, the EPA and Army Corps have followed through on a promise to revisit the definition of “waters of the United States,” and to provide greater clarity as to the jurisdictional reach of the Clean Water Act. This new rule now provides much-needed practical guidance to small businesses who have long struggled to understand whether they may safely use their lands. This is vital because landowners risk ruinous penalties of thousands of dollars in daily fines if they inadvertently violate the Clean Water Act. Prior to today’s final rule, it was notoriously difficult to determine whether private property was (or was not) subject to federal regulation.  

The NFIB Small Business Legal Center protects the rights of small business owners in the nation’s courts. NFIB is currently active in more than 40 cases in federal and state courts across the country and in the U.S. Supreme Court. 

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