A new EPA rule on Waters of the U.S. is "burdensome and unnecessary" and impedes America’s efforts to realize our full energy potential, according to the American Pipeline Contractors Association.

"APCA strongly opposes the recent EPA announcement of a final rule on Waters of the United States (WOTUS) and repeal of the Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR)," the association said in a statement. "This ill-advised and poorly timed announcement only adds burdensome and unnecessary regulations to the process. Permitting reform and similar regulatory updates are necessary to unlock America’s full energy potential, and this decision moves us in the wrong direction. With a case affecting WOTUS regulations pending before the Supreme Court, this decision injects confusion into what should be a busy year of construction. APCA urges the Biden Administration to roll back this regulation as soon as possible and asks Congress to undertake meaningful action to reform the pipeline permitting process as a top priority."

The new rule, Revised Definition of Waters of the United States, was announced on December 30, 2022, and goes into effect 60 days after its publication in the Federal Register (the end of February). An EPA summary of the rule is at www.epa.gov/wotus/revising-definition-waters-united-states.

The rule is certain to be challenged by Congress and in the courts. Senator John Hoeven (R-N.Dak.) issued the following statement:

“The Biden administration continues to push overbroad regulations that impose increased costs and greater constraints on our economy, which ultimately lead to higher prices for American consumers,” Hoeven said. “Like the Obama-era rule, this new WOTUS definition violates private property rights and is the wrong approach for our nation. Instead, we need regulatory relief that encourages investment and reduces costs for energy development, agriculture producers and construction, among others, while empowering states to protect the water resources within their borders.”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce also weighed in:

“If we are to meet our ambitious climate and infrastructure agenda, a consistent, predictable, and durable Waters of the United States (WOTUS) definition is foundational. The Chamber and our members are concerned that the Phase 1 Rule will do quite the opposite and create more uncertainty and instability, especially as the Supreme Court moves toward deciding the Sackett case. 

“We will carefully review the new rule with an eye to assessing whether it is consistent with all applicable legal requirements, including the appropriate scope of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. The business community urges EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to pause before taking any additional steps that would further complicate infrastructure permitting decisions.”