On Tuesday, February 28, President Trump signed an Executive Order that begins to unwind the Obama administration’s controversial Clean Water Rule. Also known as the Waters of the U.S. rule, or WOTUS, the regulation was written by the U.S. EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to clarify the reach of federal regulators over wetlands and waterways under the Clean Water Act.

While the executive order cannot repeal WOTUS, which was finalized in May 2015, the Executive Order will direct EPA and the Army Corps to begin a formal review of the regulation, a likely first step to dismantling it. Withdrawing WOTUS will have a significant impact on the real estate sector, especially land real estate, and for private property land owners across the US.

image of land, rural landscape, land for sale
President Donald Trump signs the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) executive order, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, in the Roosevelt Room in the White House in Washington, which directs the Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, which expands the number of waterways that are federally protected under the Clean Water Act. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The REALTORS® Land Institute, “The Voice of Land,” applauds the new administration on taking this long overdue step to review and revise the regulation. RLI has strongly advocated for the rule to be withdrawn to eliminate the need for costly and time-consuming permits on waters that were previously unregulated by the federal government. The permits have been required to develop on private property that has any areas holding water, not just navigable interstate water or adjacent wetlands.

RLI looks forward to working with the Administration, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, when approved, to develop common-sense solutions to protecting our nation’s water resources while balancing the interests of land real estate, land owners, and communities nationwide – Brandon Rogillo, ALC, 2017 RLI National President

Because WOTUS greatly increased the number and types of waters that came under the control of the EPA, many private property owners were unable to utilize their own properties—essentially, experiencing a taking of their property without just compensation—a violation of the 5th amendment. While maintaining the integrity of fresh water in this country should remain a priority, the WOTUS rule claims a largely undefined and very broad jurisdiction beyond a reasonable scope. Due to pending additional litigation and technical procedures, the rule has been stayed nationwide by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals since last October.

The Executive Order directs the EPA to begin a rewrite of the regulation to adhere more closely to the definition of “waters of the U.S.” under the Clean Water Act and provide a streamlined permitting process to provide clarity and certainty to the private sector while protecting the integrity of the country’s water resources.


About the REALTORS® Land Institute
The REALTORS® Land Institute, “The Voice of Land,” continually strives to maintain its status as the acknowledged leader for all matters pertaining to the land real estate profession. RLI endeavors to remain the essential membership organization for the extraordinary real estate professionals who broker, lease, sell, develop, and manage our most precious resource: the land. The REALTORS® Land Institute, provides the expertise, camaraderie, and valuable resources that are the foundation for all land real estate professionals to become the best in the business. For more information, visit RLILand.com or call (800) 441–5263.

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