The State of Montana has had a long-standing disagreement with the federal government after the EPA shifted how it read and enforced a rule called the ‘Waters of the U.S.’ or WOTUS. Montana Attorney General’s offices spokesman John Barnes explains.

“What happened going back to 2015 is the Obama administration proposed a Waters of the U.S. rule that was incredibly expansive,” Barnes said. “It was vague and it gave the EPA and the Core of Engineers a tremendous amount of power over waters that they didn’t have authority over prior to that.”

Montana and many other states filed lawsuits and ended up winning their case against the EPA which offered a new reading of WOTUS yesterday. According to Barnes, the new rule is much improved over the 2015 rule.

“The EPA is now proposing a new rule that brings clarity and certainty into defining what is and is not a water of the United States,” Barnes. “This new rule respects the role of the states in managing land and water resources. When the EPA was putting together this rule, they listened to the people directly impacted by the regulations and they put together a proposal that makes it much easier for everyone to understand.”

Barnes says WOTUS rules impact all kinds of operations in Montana including everything from farming and city planning to natural resource industries. According to Acting EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler the new rule is designed to “give power back to states.”