Ken Kopocis, the top official in U.S. EPA’s water office and the employee in charge of finalizing the historic Clean Water Rule, will retire in November.
"Ken Kopocis, our current Deputy Assistant Administrator for Water, will retire in early November, concluding 32 years of public service. Ken has been instrumental in leading the Office of Water, particularly in finalizing the historic Clean Water Rule that better protects our nation's water resources," McCarthy said in the email obtained by E&E Daily.
The retirement announcement comes as Congress, the EPA, and various states battle over the implementation of the new rule, which expands EPA’s authority over waters all over the U.S. – whether they are actually wet or not.
You may remember, the current issue of debate is a circuit court “stay” that prohibits any further legal proceedings while the courts determine the court of jurisdiction on this particular issue and how to handle additional lawsuits.
The Clean Water rule aims to clear up confusion about which streams and wetlands are regulated under the Clean Water Act following two muddled Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006. Providing clearer -- and broader -- Clean Water Act protections has been a chief goal of the last decade and a half of Kopocis' career, both at EPA and previously in Congress, where he worked for former House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.) on legislation with the same aim.
Kopocis has also shepherded implementation of a landmark approach to cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay, an approach that has been fiercely contested by agricultural and development groups that are in the process of asking the Supreme Court for review.
Joel Beauvais will take on Kopocis' job as EPA's acting deputy assistant administrator for water, according to McCarthy's email.
Beauvais has been the agency's associate administrator for policy for the past two years, working on developing EPA's high-profile rules and managing its relationship with the Office of Management and Budget. A former House Energy and Commerce Committee counsel and clerk for former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Beauvais has also worked in the agency's Office of Air and Radiation as well as served as special counsel to the EPA administrator and its general counsel's office.