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WOTUS Update

Updated: Feb 7


Larry Liebesman

It’s always nice when reporters call us for insights on timely issues. Not surprisingly, our colleague Larry Liebesman’s phone line has been humming continuously since Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced its long-awaited Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) revisions. Larry joined us after a distinguished legal career that includes more than a decade as an environmental litigator at the U.S. Department of Justice. He’s well-versed in the nuances of WOTUS case law and you can find several WOTUS commentaries stretching back years on our blog.  Larry’s recent comments are in Bloomberg, Politico, E&E News and Engineering News Record.

Here’s an excerpt from an E&E News story by its well-regarded reporter Ariel Wittenberg: Former Justice Department attorney Larry Liebesman, who now works at the consulting firm Dawson & Associates, said the Trump administration's strategy could prove vulnerable in court.

"'I can see environmental opponents saying that when Congress enacted the Clean Water Act, they made it clear the act extended to the farthest reaches of the commerce clause of the Constitution, including intrastate waters that may in the aggregate have an impact on commerce as a whole,' he said. 'The reach of the commerce clause is an issue here,' Liebesman said. However, Liebesman added, a court could be wary of making any rulings based on constitutional grounds. The Supreme Court decided in 2017 that legal fights over the Clean Water Act must first go to federal district court."