ARTBA Says Final 'Waters of the United States' Rule Brings Clarity to Transportation Project Reviews

Thu January 23, 2020 - National Edition

The Trump administration's rewrite of the 2015 "Waters of the United States" (WOTUS) rule will help restore clarity to federal wetlands regulations and reduce delays to important transportation improvements, the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) said.

ARTBA President Dave Bauer credited the administration for fulfilling its promise to bring clarity to the muddied jurisdictional questions surrounding WOTUS.

"The new rule recognizes that delay and uncertainty only serve to increase transportation project costs," Bauer said.

At issue is how the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) define water bodies that are subject to federal authority. Under the Obama administration era rule, roadside ditches could have been subject to unnecessary federal oversight, delaying transportation projects, increasing costs and jeopardizing highway safety.

In previous regulatory comments and congressional testimony, ARTBA has noted that ditches serve the necessary function of collecting water that would otherwise have nowhere to go but on roadways, noting that "[a] ditch's primary purpose is safety and they only have water present during and after rainfall. In contrast, traditional wetlands are not typically man-made nor do they fulfill a specific safety function."

ARTBA remains involved in federal litigation over the earlier repeal of the 2015 WOTUS rule. It will similarly fight to protect the Trump administration WOTUS regulations against any new legal challenges.

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