Rapanos v. United States: Implications for the Future of Wetlands Protection

May 7, 2019 12:00 pm — 1:30 pm
Washington, DC (and webinar)

An ELI 50th Anniversary Seminar

The scope of federal jurisdiction over water pollution and wetlands was greatly muddied by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2006 Rapanos v. United States decision. Rather than clarifying “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) and the boundaries of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act (CWA), the Court left us with a fractured 4-4-1 decision and no clear opinion. Today, the Trump Administration is relying on Justice Scalia’s plurality opinion—requiring a continuous permanent surface flow and connection to traditional navigable waters—as the basis for amending the regulatory WOTUS definition. This amendment could remove federal protections for more than 50% of wetlands currently regulated under the CWA. Meanwhile, states and localities are struggling with how to update and clarify their own wetland-related regulations in light of these ever-evolving developments.

ELI and 30th Annual National Wetland Awards winners explored the implications of Rapanos and the proposed new WOTUS rule for the future of wetlands. The expert panelists offered their perspectives on Rapanos, the proposed rule, and the implications for the future of wetlands conservation, landowner stewardship, and wetlands program development. Panelists also explored how landowners can work closely with state agencies to protect wetlands while also advancing landowners’ business goals. Finally, panelists discussed how to effectively communicate to stakeholders the benefits of wetlands to clean water and other water resources with the goal of establishing and retaining sustainable wetland programs.

Amanda Waters, General Counsel, National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), Moderator
Joel Gerwein, Deputy Regional Manager, California State Coastal Conservancy
Greg Sutter, Vice President and General Manager, Westervelt Ecological Services
Angela Waupochick, Hydrologist, Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans

ELI members will have access to materials/a recording of this session (usually posted w/in 48 hours). If you are not an ELI member but would like to have access to archived sessions like this one, go HERE to see the many benefits of membership and how to join.