On Sept. 12, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers announced the repeal of the controversial 2015 “Waters of the U.S.” rule, which dramatically expanded federal authority beyond traditional interpretations of the Clean Water Act. The EPA and Corps also announced the finalization of a replacement rule that brings consistency and clarity to how regulable waters are defined in the Clean Water Act.

The issue has been an important one for Montana agriculture and others concerned about water rights.

“I applaud the Trump Administration, EPA, and Corps of Engineers for finalizing a Waters of the U.S. rule that respects the role of the states in managing land and water resources,” said Montana Attorney General Tim Fox said. “In 2015, I and other state attorneys general led the charge in halting President Obama’s rule, which appeared to be more about grabbing power than protecting water. This time, the federal government listened to the people who will be directly impacted and crafted a proposal that makes it much easier to understand and apply the Clean Water Act in Montana.”

With the support of the Montana Farm Bureau Federation, Montana Stockgrowers Association, Montana Association of Counties, Montana Chamber of Commerce, and others, Attorney General Fox led a group of 13 states to file suit against the 2015 rule. The legal challenge was ultimately successful in halting implementation of the rule. In 2017, the federal government began the process of rescinding the 2015 rule and drafting a replacement.


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