Public Affairs Update

Public Affairs Update……………………………………………..……………….May 1, 2019

  • NAR Comments on WOTUS Replacement
  • Trump Tightens Control Over Regulators
  • In Case You Missed It


NAR Comments on WOTUS Replacement

On December 11, 2018, the EPA and Department of the Army signed a proposed rule revising the definition of "waters of the United States" (WOTUS) to clarify federal authority under the Clean Water Act in a clear and understandable way. The agencies’ proposal is the second step in a two-step process to review and revise the definition of “waters of the United States” consistent with the February 2017 Presidential Executive Order entitled “Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the ‘Waters of the United States’ Rule.” The proposed definition would replace the approach in the 2015 Rule and the pre-2015 regulations. NAR submitted a comment letter(link is external) in support of this rule.  NAR believes this proposed WOTUS replacement rule will bring certainty and consistency to the permitting and development process, while protecting water quality and property rights. Read NAR's Comment Letter [Source: NAR Update 04-23-2019]


Trump Tightens Control Over Regulators

On April 11, 2019, the White House moved to curb the power of federal regulators by directing them to submit non-binding guidance documents to the budget office for review, a step that could improve transparency and accountability for any rule with a potentially large impact on the economy. A memo(link is external) from acting Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought would vastly broaden Congress's ability to reject such guidance, subjecting the documents to the same scrutiny as regulations that carry the force of law.


The action would help resolve an issue that has proved problematic: agencies issuing regulatory documents that don’t go through the formal notice-and-comment process but can still regulate the private sector.


The memo will have a potentially sweeping impact on agencies throughout the government including independent regulators like the EPA, Federal Reserve and the SEC. It calls on the agencies to regularly notify the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs of upcoming guidance, along with determinations of whether it qualifies as “major” — the threshold for notifying Congress under the Congressional Review Act.


Any guidance document deemed major by OIRA would need to be sent to Congress, which would then have the ability to strike it down under the review act, a law that gives lawmakers a short window to roll back a rule. Download the White House Memo [Source: NAR Update 04-23-2019]


 In Case You Missed It