Tuesday, 16 January, 2018

EPA Rolls Back WOTUS

CREDIT AP CREDIT AP
Sandy Vega | 28 June, 2017, 02:52

The Environmental Protection Agency announced its plans today to repeal the Clean Water Rule, advancing the Trump administration's agenda to give industry and agribusiness free rein to pollute the drinking water sources of more than 100 million Americans, said EWG Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Scott Faber.

The agencies are working to rescind the Waters of the United States rule, and reinstate the language of the rule before it was changed in 2015 by the Obama administration. The groups said in written statements that EPA's decision threatens wildlife and businesses that rely on clean water for hunting and fishing.

When the rule was issued, the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers resolved decades of legal debate among politicians, environmentalists and public health advocates, saying that that smaller waterways across the nations-tens of millions of acres of wetlands and thousands of streams-actually qualify for legal protection under the Clean Water Act, the primary federal law that protects communities and ecosystems from water pollution.

Under the proposal from the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers, federal officials would go back to enforcing a guidance document from 2008 when deciding whether a waterway is subject to federal oversight for pollution control purposes.

"This is the first step in the two-step process to redefine 'waters of the U.S.' and we are committed to moving through this re-evaluation to quickly provide regulatory certainty, in a way that is thoughtful, transparent and collaborative with other agencies and the public", Pruitt said.

"It is an overreach of federal authority on private property", said Larry Wooten, president of the North Carolina Farm Bureau after Cooper's withdrawal.

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"We are taking significant action to return power to the states and provide regulatory certainty to our nation's farmers and businesses", said Administrator Scott Pruitt.

President Donald Trump ordered the agencies to review the rule in February, calling it a "horrible, terrible rule" and "a massive power grab". "The rule under the Obama administration basically was going to monitor every drop of water that hit your field if it did any kind of pooling for any amount of time". The rule greatly expanded the role of the federal government, and its legality was repeatedly questioned, leading to a court-ordered suspension of the rule in 2015.

In May Pruitt said he expected EPA to have a new rule defining what constitutes WOTUS by either the end of the year or in early 2018.

Without this rule in place, many streams in the continental U.S. will not have protection from pollution such as the dumping of coal mining and agricultural waste, according to the EPA's own analyses. "We all support clean water, but this is more than about clean water - it's about control of the land". "We'll stand up to this reckless attack on our waters and health".

Farm groups were quick to praise the action.

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