As previously reported, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) published a proposed rule entitled Definition of “Waters of the United States” Under the Clean Water Act on April 21, 2014. Although the proposed rule has been under development for a period of eight to thirteen years - depending on its commencement after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions in SWANNC (2001) or Rapanos (2006) - there is a 90-day deadline for submittal of comments on the proposed rule.
The Florida Association of Counties (FAC) has been participating in the Florida H2O Coalition, a statewide stakeholder group comprised of representatives from diverse interests including agriculture, industry, government, utilities, engineers, manufacturers and developers. The Coalition has recently drafted a letter to the EPA Administrator requesting an extension of the comment deadline for 180 days, commencing upon the final analysis of the Science Advisory Board (SAB) and any changes made as a result of its findings.
Last Friday, EPA published its 2015 regulatory agenda, which indicates that EPA hopes to complete its rulemaking with final publication of the rule in April 2015. Although the timeline on EPA’s website still reflects the comment period closing on July 21, 2014, this is the first indication of an extended timeline. Rumors continue about an extension of the public comment period, but it’s unclear how any such extension might affect the new April 2015 date for final publication.