Washington DC Update

June 11, 2021

Waters of the U.S.

On June 9, 2021, the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of the Army (the agencies) will be announced their intent to establish a new definition of “waters of the United States.” The agencies are seeking to better protect vital water resources that support public health, environmental protection, agricultural activity, and economic growth. In addition, the Department of Justice is filing a motion requesting a remand of the 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR) in the District Court of Massachusetts today.

 Executive Order 13990 on “Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis” directs EPA and the Army to review and, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, take action to revise or replace the NWPR defining “waters of the United States.” EPA and the Army have completed this review and determined that they have concerns with the NWPR, including that it is causing significant, ongoing, and irreversible environmental damage.

The agencies’ new regulatory effort will be guided by:

  • Protecting water resources and our communities consistent with the Clean Water Act
  • Considering the latest science and the effects of climate change on our waters
  • Emphasizing effective implementation
  • Reflecting the experience of landowners, the agricultural community that fuels and feeds the world, states, tribes, environmental organizations, and community organizations

The agencies intend to pursue a new rulemaking process to replace the NWPR with a durable definition of “waters of the United States.”In the interim, the NWPR is still in effect across the country. Further details of the agencies’ plans, including opportunities for public participation, will be conveyed in a forthcoming action later this summer.

For more information about the definition of “waters of the United States,” visit https://www.epa.gov/wotus. Please contact CWAwotus@epa.gov with any questions.

This information is provided by the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers regarding their intention to revise the definition of Waters of the US (WOTUS) rule issued in 2020.

 It is not clear what changes to the current rule the agencies will be proposing. A new rulemaking process is intended. This announcement is associated with the agencies requesting courts that are currently confronting various legal challenges to the 2020 rule to remand the rule to the agencies for revision.


This week the Congressional Research Service issued the following report: EU Agricultural Domestic Support: Overview and Comparison with the United States.

The Report highlights several policy trends that have emerged in the EU and the United States, including the following:

Traditionally, the United States uses less overall trade-distorting support (OTDS) than the EU, although the EU has made substantial reductions in the volume of OTDS. Since 2011, OTDS outlays (as notified to the World Trade Organization [WTO]) for the EU and United States have been near parity.

In both the EU and the United States, support for less-distorting noncommodity-type programs (e.g., conservation, rural development, agroforestry, nutrition, and climate) has increased substantially.

When measured by producer subsidy equivalent (PSE) as a share of total gross farm receipts, support has been trending lower for both the EU and the United States.  As of 2019, the EU’s share (19%) remained above the U.S. share (12%).

U.S. consumers have received net benefits from agriculture-based support programs (including domestic food aid), whereas EU consumers generally have transferred more support to agricultural producers than they have received in offsetting benefits—that is, the EU’s consumer subsidy estimate (CSE) is negative— although the net transfer has been declining over time as a share of gross farm receipts.

The report is intended to provide information to policy makers because the United States and the EU figure prominently in the development and use of global agricultural policy.  Information comparing their farm support programs may be of interest to Congress as the United States considers reauthorization of the domestic farm bill by 2023 and engages in international trade negotiations.

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