River flows through the wilderness of Michigan's Upper Peninsula boreal forest. The river flows from Kitch iti kipi spring into Indian Lake. Palms Book State Park, Manistique, Michigan.

The definition of the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) has been a frequent topic of discussion in Compliance News. The definition has a complicated history, with frequent changes triggered by court cases (e.g., County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund) and administration decisions.

The most recent final revised definition of WOTUS took effect March 20. The rule defines seven categories of waters that fall under Clean Water Act (CWA) authority. EPA’s aim is to more efficiently and effectively safeguard water and protect human health while also providing greater water certainty for agriculture, industry, and other stakeholders.

Despite the new definition, it is not without controversy. In addition to at least five pending federal suits, the Supreme Court is expected to rule in the Sackett v. EPA case by June. This decision would provide a definitive answer regarding whether wetlands would fall under WOTUS.

We will continue to share updates with you as they occur.

In other environmental updates, we highlight the following in our Compliance News:

Stronger wastewater discharge standards for coal-fired power plants proposed

To reduce discharges of toxic metals and other pollutants from these power plants into waterbodies, the EPA’s proposed rule would establish more stringent discharge standards for three wastewaters generated at coal-fired power plants: flue gas desulfurization wastewater, bottom ash transport water, and combustion residual leachate.

Voluntary Self-Disclosure Policy updated

The Environmental Crimes Section of the U.S. Department of Justice Environment and Natural Resources Division issued revisions to its Voluntary Self-Disclosure (VSD) Policy including: standards of VSD, descriptions of benefits, and exception criteria.

1st quarter EPA enforcement roundup

EPA enforcement actions for first quarter of 2023 resulted in over $6 million in fines. Common violations include: Clean Air Act, Toxic Substances Control Act, National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

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