On September 16, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA, the Agency) rescinded a guidance document that was issued by the Trump administration on January 14, 2021. The Agency is terminating this guidance after determining that it is inconsistent with EPA’s authority to limit pollution discharges under the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the Supreme Court’s decision in County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund. With this action, EPA is preserving longstanding clean water protections.
The CWA and a direct application of the Court’s Maui decision provide important protections for the nation’s waters. This action ensures appropriate regulation of discharges of pollutants to groundwater that also reach surface waters. This action will help protect water quality in lakes, streams, wetlands, and other waterbodies. EPA will work with state permitting agencies and the regulated community to implement the Court’s decision Maui, consistent with law and science.
The Office of Water is evaluating appropriate next steps. EPA will continue to apply site-specific, science-based evaluations to determine whether a discharge from a point source through groundwater that reaches surface water requires a permit under the CWA. The agency is committed to working with its state co-regulators, Tribes, and local partners to better protect water quality that is essential to public health and thriving ecosystems.
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