The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a report that synthesizes more than one thousand scientific studies about the connections among water bodies. The report is a step towards a new rule to clarify what water resources are subject to the Clean Water Act. The decades old law protects the nation’s waterways from pollution.

The report will “serve as a basis” for the new rulemaking, according to the EPA, but only after it is reviewed by the agency’s Scientific Advisory Board and the public has the opportunity to comment on it.

The new rule would clarify confusion created by two rulings by the Supreme Court in 2001 and 2006. In those cases, the Court redefined what water bodies are subject to the Clean Water Act. Previously, federal regulators included waters that ultimately connected to “navigable waters,” which are subject to the law.


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