After several months of back-and-forth and two comment extensions on the Waters of the U.S. proposed rule, the public comment period expires today.
While the end of the comment period doesn't signal an end to the discussion, it is one step closer to finalizing or revising the proposal's official language and fielding remaining concerns from ag and environmental stakeholders.
In honor of the expiration, let's take a look back at some of the top five headlines on the Waters of the U.S. proposal:
1. EPA Opens Comments on Waters of the US Language. This is the announcement that started it all. The EPA in April posted its final proposed rule to the Federal Register, inviting public comment. Right off the bat, several farm groups took a stand on the rule, with the National Cattlemen's Beef Association's Environmental Counsel Ashley McDonald suggesting it proved there was "no limit to federal jurisdiction." The National Farmers Union, on the other hand, was glad to see the conservation exemptions in the proposal.
2. A Closer Look at EPA's Waters of the US Proposal. Shortly after the proposal's release, ag attorney and blogger Gary Baise completed a five-part commentary on its finer points. In his opinion series, Baise discusses the definitions of tributary, adjacent waters and other waters, language that is used in the proposal.
3. EPA's McCarthy: Ditch the Myths, Not the Waters of the U.S. Rule. As comments on the proposal moved closer the initial expiration date of July 21 (later extended to Oct. 20, then Nov. 14), EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy headed to the Heartland for Waters of the U.S. discussion with farmers and stakeholders. During the trip, the East Coast native caught some negative attention for her comment that some stakeholder concerns regarding the WOTUS proposal were "ludicrous."
4. House Bill Joins Senate Effort to Derail EPA's Waters of the US Rule. During the course of the WOTUS discussion, Congress was busy creating legislative blocks for the proposal. Both the House and the Senate came up with separate bills that aimed to stall the WOTUS rule, and in the House, curb the accompanying Interpretive Rule. The House Bill passed on Sept. 9, despite a White House veto threat.
5. EPA Review Board Stands By Waters of the U.S. Proposal. Clearing a governmental hurdle, an EPA panel tasked with reviewing the agency's draft report on water connectivity in late October said the report is "thorough and technically accurate" in showing support for the proposed Waters of the U.S. rule. EPA said it did not plan to finalize the Waters of the U.S. rule until the SAB report had been fully reviewed.
Ready for more reading? Here are more headlines that didn't make the cut:
EPA's Waters of the US Proposal Concerns Keep Flowing (D.C. Dialogue blog)
Farmers Worry Waters of the US Interpretive Rule Will Suppress Conservation
EPA's Waters and Wetlands Maps Released Under Pressure from House Committee
Waters of the U.S. Support Issued by 8 Attorneys General