The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced on Jan. 31 that the 2015 Waters of the United States rule will not be applicable for two years.
The controversial Obama-era regulation may never be implemented as the agency said it will work to repeal and replace the measure. The 2015 rule defined which small waterways can be governed by federal regulations, which could increase the cost of development, critics say.
The agency is reviewing public comments for its 2017 proposal to rescind the rule, and is working with the Army Corps of Engineers to develop a potential replacement rule that would redefine “waters of the United States.” The rule has been slowed by legal challenges, with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit having issued a nationwide stay of the rule before the planned August 2015 implementation.
The Supreme Court determined last month that federal circuit courts do not have original jurisdiction to review the challenges, which should be adjudicated by district courts. The delay and the agency’s intent to repeal and replace the rule “provides much needed certainty and clarity to the regulated community during the ongoing regulatory process,” the EPA said in a press release.