Wednesday, May 27, 2015

EPA releases water rules; agency says rules do not add any new requirements for agriculture

The Obama administration today released water rules that attempt "to establish which waterways are protected under the Clean Water Act," Darryl Fears reports for The Washington Post. Gina McCarthy, Environmental Protection Agency chief, "said tributaries such as streams that flow into larger water bodies will be covered, in addition to wetlands and smaller bodies that adjoin them."

McCarthy told reporters, “The rule does not add any new requirements for agriculture . . . and does not interfere with private property rights. It will not get in the way of agriculture and recognizes the crucial role that farmers play. Farmers ranchers and foresters are all original conservationists, and we recognize that.”

The Republican-led House has repeatedly tried to overturn the rules, and critics say rules unnecessarily expand EPA jurisdiction. But officials said the rule "is about increasing clarity for businesses and helping make it easier to determine which waterways are subject to the pollution rules of the Clean Water Act," Timothy Cama reports for The Hill.

McCarthy told reporters, “We’re finalizing a clean water rule to protect the streams and the wetlands that one in three Americans rely on for drinking water. And we’re doing that without creating any new permitting requirements and maintaining all previous exemptions and exclusions.”

"This rule is about clarification, and, in fact, we’re adding exclusions for features like artificial lakes and ponds, water-filled depressions from constructions and grass swales," McCarthy said. "This rule will make it easier to identify protected waters and will make those protections consistent with the law as well as the latest peer-reviewed science. This rule is based on science."

“It does not regulate any ditches unless they function as tributaries," McCarthy said. "It does not apply to groundwater or shallow subsurface water, copper tile drains or change policy on irrigation or water transfer.” (Read more)

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