On August 29, 2023, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of the Army (the agencies) issued a final rule to amend the final “Revised Definition of ‘Waters of the United States’” rule, published in the Federal Register on January 18, 2023. This final rule conforms the definition of “waters of the United States” to the U.S. Supreme Court’s May 25, 2023, decision in the case of Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency. Parts of the January 2023 Rule are invalid under the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Clean Water Act in the Sackett decision. Therefore, the agencies have amended key aspects of the regulatory text to conform it to the Court’s decision. The conforming rule, "Revised Definition of 'Waters of the United States'; Conforming," published in the Federal Register and became effective today 8 September 2023.
Where the January 2023 Rule is not enjoined, the agencies are implementing the January 2023 Rule, as amended by the conforming rule. In the jurisdictions and for the parties where the January 2023 Rule is enjoined, the agencies are interpreting the phrase “waters of the United States” consistent with the pre-2015 regulatory regime and the Supreme Court’s decision in Sackett. The below map illustrates which definition of “waters of the United States” is generally operative in each state across the country as a result of litigation challenging the 2023 Rule. The map is also available at https://www.epa.gov/wotus/definition-waters-united-states-rule-status-and-litigation-update. As the litigation continues, EPA will update the map, when possible, to reflect the most current information that is made available to the EPA and the Army.
Now that the conforming rule has become effective, the nationwide pause on issuance of certain approved jurisdictional determinations (AJDs) is now lifted in entirety. Effective immediately, USACE districts have resumed issuance of all AJDs nationwide under the applicable regulatory regime.
Please visit EPA’s Rule Status page for additional information about the status of the January 2023 Rule, as amended, and litigation.