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WATERS OF THE US PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD

March 1, 2019

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers are accepting public comments on proposed revisions to what defines “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) under federal law.

The changes are intended to provide clarity as to which bodies of water should be covered by the Clean Water Act. This move replaces an earlier revision announced in 2015 under the Obama administration.

WOTUS is an important issue for the commercial, retail, and industrial real estate industry, since understanding how the federal government regulates wetlands and other waters has long been a complicated, confusing and often costly issue for landowners and developers.

The 2015 rule is law in 22 states. For the remaining 28 states, an earlier version of the rule – which dates back to the late 1980s – is still in place. The new regulation would bring clarity, both by establishing a single, nationwide definition of WOTUS, and by making it easier for developers to determine which waters are under federal jurisdiction.

The public comment period will be open until April 15Click here to comment.

Elsewhere, the House Budget Committee, now headed up by Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY), plans to hold a hearing this week to discuss the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. There were technical mistakes made during the writing of that law that need to be fixed by an act of Congress.

One such error is the treatment of Qualified Improvement Property. However, the hearing is expected to focus on other topics, perhaps including corporate tax rates.

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