Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of the Army unveiled the federal government’s newly finalized definition of Waters of the United States (known as WOTUS), clarifying federal regulatory authority and jurisdiction over water sources under the Clean Water Act. The new WOTUS definition replaces the federal government’s interpretation of federally-regulated water sources from a 2015 rule which was set by the Obama Administration. The following statement can be attributed to Ed Longanecker, president of the Texas Independent Producers & Royalty Owners Association (TIPRO):
“The former WOTUS definition was heavily scrutinized since its implementation and was fought extensively through legal action pursued in the courts over the past five years. The state of Texas, in fact, led a coalition of 20 states fighting against the EPA’s 2015 WOTUS regulation. TIPRO and its members also advocated in opposition to the previous administration’s definition of WOTUS since its inception.
The U.S. oil and gas industry has maintained a significant interest in the scope of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. All segments of the oil and natural gas industry are subject to extensive water permitting and regulatory requirements at both the state and federal levels for activities such as drilling and producing from oil and natural gas wells, refining crude oil, and transporting crude oil or refined product.
WOTUS was an effort by the Obama Administration to expand the federal government’s authority over land and water use across the nation, resulting in the need to acquire significantly more government permits and fulfill bureaucratic regulatory requirements. Protecting water resources is very important to independent producers, but the overly-broad power grab under the previous administration would have had a negative impact on domestic oil and gas production.
Over the last year, the EPA and Department of Army have collected public input from stakeholders concerning the U.S. government’s new WOTUS definition narrowing the scope of federal management of water resources. Through public hearings, webinars, public comments and other consultations involving states, local officials, stakeholders and tribes, the EPA and Army have formulated a new water rule that strikes an appropriate regulatory balance protecting the nation’s water sources while at the same time respecting private property rights and state authority over land and water use.
The new WOTUS rule will offer clarity, predictability and consistency, so our industry can understand where the Clean Water Act applies—and where it does not. TIPRO applauds the Trump Administration and EPA for their work on this important issue.”