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Water Resources Development Act Update


Congress is currently working on the next Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), the bill that authorizes projects and policy changes for the Corps of Engineers, affecting water resources planning and projects nationwide. We encourage WPN members to reach out to your Members of Congress with your WRDA priorities now, especially in the Senate where WRDA is actively in the works. We also encourage you to share your WRDA 2022 proposals with us by email.
 

More information:

Last Call for Most Endangered Rivers Nominations


WPN member American Rivers is accepting nominations until Thursday, September 30 for their 2022 Most Endangered Rivers report. This report highlights ten rivers whose fate will be decided in the coming year, and encourages decision-makers to do the right thing for the rivers and the communities they support. The report highlights rivers confronted by critical decisions that will determine their future.  The report presents alternatives to proposals that would damage rivers, identifies those who make crucial decisions, and points out opportunities for the public to take action for each listed river. This is a powerful tool for national level media outreach, public influence, and visibility for local and regional river issues.
 
Your river is eligible if it meets the following primary criteria:
  • The public can influence a decision in the coming year that will impact the river’s fate.
  • The river holds deep meaning to people and nature.
  • The magnitude of threat to the river and its communities is significant, especially in light of a changing climate and/or environmental justice.
To nominate a river, please complete the MER 2022 Nomination Form linked on this FAQ page and email it to jthomas@americanrivers.org.

WPN Infrastructure & Reconciliation Webinar: Recording Available & Call for Ideas


Last week, we held an informative webinar for our members about infrastructure and reconciliation legislation, and their impact on WPN priorities. Click here to watch the recording and share it with your colleagues. Thank you to everyone who joined us, and special thanks to our WPN member guest speakers – Eileen Shader and Matt Young at American Rivers and Joshua Sewell at Taxpayers for Common Sense.
 
This is just the first in our new series of webinars and discussions for WPN members, and we want to hear from you! Click here to email Ilana with your questions and suggested topics for future webinars.

Appropriations Update


Congress continues working on Fiscal Year 2022 appropriations bills, the legislation to fund the federal government. Last week, the House passed a Continuing Resolution (H.R.5305) which now goes to the Senate, to extend funding through December 3, 2021 to avoid a government shutdown since Congress will not pass the required 12 appropriations bills by the September 30 deadline. The House has passed 9 of 12 appropriations bills including a minibus (H.R.4502) containing the Energy & Water bill that funds the Corps of Engineers and the Interior-Environment bill that funds the EPA and DOI. Meanwhile, components of the Build Back Better Act budget reconciliation bill have passed through the House Ways and Means Committee and House Energy and Commerce Committee. The Senate passed the bipartisan infrastructure bill, with the House expected to vote on it as well as the Build Back Better Act this week.
 

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Pebble Mine Update


On September 9, EPA announced a major step toward permanently protecting Alaska’s Bristol Bay watershed from the toxic open-pit Pebble Mine – a project that many WPN members and partners have fought passionately for years. EPA announced its intent to vacate the Trump Administration’s decision to remove safeguards for Bristol Bay, which would reinstate EPA’s 2014 Proposed Determination under Clean Water Act Section 404(c). The exact process and timeline to finalize permanent protections remain to be seen, and the Pebble Partnership can be expected to challenge EPA’s actions, but this is an important win in the long fight for the people, salmon, wetlands, and so much more in pristine Bristol Bay.

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Waters of the United States Update


On August 30, the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona vacated the Trump Administration’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule – the Trump rule had gutted Clean Water Act protections for millions of streams and wetlands. The court ruled that the Trump rule has serious errors and the potential to cause significant harm if left in place. Following the ruling, EPA and the Corps have stopped implementing the Trump rule and are now interpreting the definition of Waters of the US (WOTUS) under pre-2015 regulatory definitions. We send our congratulations and gratitude to the plaintiffs – the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, Tohono O’odham Nation, Quinault Indian Nation, Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, and the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, represented by WPN member Earthjustice. Meanwhile, EPA and the Corps have indicated they are moving forward with their two WOTUS rulemakings – one to restore longstanding protections, and a second to build on the regulatory foundation of the first.
 

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National Environmental Policy Act Update


Hundreds of WPN members and partners raised their voices against the former Trump Administration’s drastic rollbacks in 2020 to National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) implementing regulations – changes that undermine scientific integrity and public input on major federal decisions affecting people, wildlife, and waters around the nation.
 
While those rollbacks are still in place, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) is in the process of a two-phase rulemaking to amend the 2020 regulations. The phase 1 rulemaking will propose a narrow set of changes while phase 2 will propose broader changes to “comply with the law; meet the environmental, climate change, and environmental justice objectives of E.O.s 13990 and 14008; ensure full and fair public involvement in the NEPA process; provide regulatory certainty to stakeholders; and promote better decision making consistent with NEPA’s statutory requirements” (reginfo.gov). WPN will continue to monitor for updates and opportunities for action on this rulemaking.
 
In the meantime, CEQ issued an interim final rule in June that gives CEQ more time to amend the 2020 NEPA rulemaking, by extending the deadline by which other agencies are required to update their NEPA regulations to comply with the 2020 changes, to September 14, 2023 instead of 2021.
 
Meanwhile, members of the Environmental Justice Leadership Forum submitted this letter to Congressional leadership sharing concerns about problematic NEPA limitations, water infrastructure, and additional priorities for infrastructure and reconciliation legislation.

Recent Public Notices


Below is a non-comprehensive list of Corps of Engineers public notices from the Federal Register and Corps district websites, and select notices from other federal agencies. Please visit FederalRegister.gov, Corps division and district websites, and other federal agencies' websites for additional public notices. Click here for examples of comments and letters submitted to the Corps by WPN members.
 

Corps of Engineers Notices

Other Agency Notices

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