navigable waters

The Long Life and Sudden Demise of Federal Wetlands Protection

Here’s a timeline of events.

It’s no wonder that one EPA staffer’s reaction to the Supreme Court ruling was a single word: “Heartbroken.” In 2023, the Supreme Court ended fifty years of broad federal protection to wetlands in Sackett v. United States.  It is only when you look back at the history of federal wetland regulation that you realize just …


What Does Trump’s “Waters of the U.S.” Rollback Mean for California?

It might not be what you’d think.

Last week, the Trump EPA announced its proposed rule to roll back the Obama administration’s 2015 “Waters of the United States” rule (“WOTUS Rule”).  Early in his tenure, Trump had announced his intent to repeal and replace the WOTUS Rule, and the proposal is, as billed, an attempt to replace the existing WOTUS Rule with …


Whither WOTUS?

Trump ordered agencies to reconsider Clean Water Act jurisdiction. Easier said than done.

President Trump ordered EPA and the Army Corps to review the Obama Administration’s WOTUS rule, which sets expansive bounds on federal jurisdiction over water bodies and wetlands. The agencies have sent the White House a proposal to rescind the WOTUS rule and revert to earlier rules until they can come up with a replacement. In my …


New legislative effort underway to develop public access to the L.A. River

Earlier this year, California State Senator Kevin De Leon introduced SB 1201, a bill that could bolster efforts to open up the Los Angeles River for lawful recreational uses such as boating.  I have a particular interest in this, since UCLA’s Frank G. Wells Environmental Law Clinic worked with the advocacy group Friends of the Los …


Clearing the Waters

Law Week (subscription only) reports that: Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.) introduced legislation April 21 that would amend the Clean Water Act to clarify and “reaffirm” U.S. jurisdiction over waters of the United States, including wetlands. The America’s Commitment to Clean Water Act (H.R. 5088) would remove the term “navigable waters of the United States” from …


Environmental law humor

Clean Water Act mavens may recall the controversy about a year ago when the Army Corps of Engineers determined that the Los Angeles River was not navigable, and therefore did not fall under federal CWA jurisdiction (LA Times story here). A Corps biologist responded by kayaking the river on her day off to prove it …