Hearing scheduled for new WOTUS definition
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army released a new draft of the Clean Water Rule on Wednesday and announced a hearing on the proposed “waters of the United States” definition, to be held Feb. 27-28 in Kansas City, Kan. The agencies have submitted the proposed rule to the Office of the Federal Register for publication.
On Feb. 13, Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, said, “Today’s release of a new draft Clean Water Rule is a major step toward fair and understandable water regulation on America’s farms and ranches and other working lands. The previous rule would have treated much of the landscape as though it were water itself. That wasn’t just confusing, but also illegal, which is why so many federal courts blocked its implementation.
“We haven’t yet examined every word of today’s proposal, but even a quick look shows many of the previous rule’s worst problems are on their way out. We will examine this rule in further detail in the coming days and look forward to a thorough discussion over the next few months,” Duvall said.
Environment America said the rule would initiate a 60-day comment period on a “dirty water rule.”
“Considering the dirty water rule would strip federal protections from thousands of waterways across the country, the EPA is giving Americans an astonishingly brief opportunity to speak out on the most sweeping attack on clean water in recent memory,” the federation of environmental groups said.
“The health of America’s rivers, lakes, and bays depends on the streams that feed them and the wetlands that filter out dangerous toxins. Eliminating protections from these waterways would put the drinking water sources for up to 117 million Americans at risk of pollution. From the Great Lakes and the Chesapeake Bay to Puget Sound and the Mississippi River, this rule would jeopardize our most iconic waterways.
“If enacted, the dirty water rule would replace the Clean Water Rule, which restored federal protections to more than half our nation’s streams and millions of acres of wetlands. The Clean Water Rule had the backing of more than 1,000 scientific studies and supporting comments from more than 1 million Americans.”
EPA and the Army will held a public webcast to explain key elements of the proposed revision.