We do have breaking news on this Wednesday morning, as the Obama administration is now formally launching the “Waters of the US ” rules opposed by farm and ranch groups.
The Obama administration expanded protections for waterways to keep them free of pollutants, defying the Republican-led Congress as well as farmers, ranchers and builders who fought what they call overreach by government.
The Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a final regulation on what rivers, streams or wetlands are “waters of the U.S.” subject to federal oversight. The rule, issued after years of debate and delay, will help curb algal blooms or pollutants in waterways like the Mississippi River or bodies such as Lake Erie, the agencies said.
McClatchy Washington Bureau: White House Finalizes Clean Water Rule
The White House on Wednesday finalized a rule intended to strengthen and clarify the Clean Water Act, setting up a clash with Republicans in Congress and the agriculture industry.
The “Waters of the United States” rule is designed to help federal officials clarify and simplify which bodies of water fall under the control of the Clean Water Act, the pivotal 1972 environmental law.
The Obama administration has launched a sweeping regulation to protect the nation’s waterways and wetlands – an initiative that faces a fierce counterattack from the agriculture, oil and home-building industries and their allies in Congress.
Here’s a previous story from NorthernAg.net: House Votes to Kill EPA Waters of the U.S. Rule
The rule is meant to define which bodies of water are jurisdictional for EPA or the Army Corps of Engineers, or in other words, which rivers, streams or wetlands are considered “waters of the United States.” One of the arguments used by the administration for the WOTUS rule is that it takes too long for the Army Corps of Engineers to continue making case-by-case decisions to determine whether a waterway is jurisdictional.
EPA has argued that normal agricultural activities will continue with their current exemptions under the Clean Water Act. Still, agricultural groups and others fear federal regulators would declare any standing water on a field or ditch as a tributary that should be regulated.
Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau, stated following Tuesday’s vote: “The way that the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers drew up the WOTUS rule, it was more about regulating land than it ever was about protecting valuable water resources. Farmers and ranchers know all about the importance of protecting water, and they will continue to put that belief into practice. Through cooperative conservation measures, we have helped cut land erosion by more than 50 percent in just the last 20 years. We have reduced pesticide use and today use technology to apply just the right amount of fertilizer at just the right time. We look forward to a new water rule that recognizes the enormous work we have done, and honors the limits authorized by Congress and the Supreme Court.”