The American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) recently announced its support for the Trump administration's effort to repeal a 2015 proposed rule on wetland regulations.
The association said repealing the rule will help restore clarity to federal wetlands regulations and reduce delays to important transportation projects.
“The regulatory ping-pong on roadside ditches has created vast uncertainty for years with little environmental benefit,” ARTBA President & CEO Dave Bauer said in a news release. “Regulators should understand that delay and uncertainty only serve to increase transportation project costs. The Trump administration repeal is a common-sense approach to harmonize wetlands protection and the delivery of needed transportation improvements.”
The issue at hand is how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers define “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) that are subject to federal authority. Under the Obama administration era rule, roadside ditches could have been subject to what ARTBA says would be unnecessary federal oversight, delaying transportation improvements and thereby increasing project costs and jeopardizing highway safety.
In previous regulatory comments and in legislative testimony, ARTBA has noted that ditches serve the necessary function of collecting water that would otherwise have nowhere to go but on roadways, noting that “[a] ditch’s primary purpose is safety, and they only have water present during and after rainfall. In contrast, traditional wetlands are not typically man-made nor do they fulfill a specific safety function.”
ARTBA says it supports the Trump administration's efforts to finalize a replacement WOTUS regulatory framework that would not "improperly" extend federal jurisdiction over roadside ditches.