Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Scientists hired by EPA say proposed water rules under Clean Water Act are scientifically sound

The Environmental Protection Agency's controversial proposed water rules are "based on scientifically sound evidence that pollution in streams and wetlands can have a big impact on larger, downstream bodies of water, according to a draft report released by the EPA’s independent Science Advisory Board," Emily Atkin reports for Climate Progress.

Proposed rules have drawn criticism from farmers, who fear the rules unnecessarily expand EPA's jurisdiction, and from politicians, including many Republicans, with the GOP-led House voting to block the rules. The proposed rules also have become a point of contention among some Republican candidates, who are using the issue to try to gain support in upcoming elections.

The Science Advisory Board’s report, led by University of South Florida civil and environmental engineering professor James Mihelcic, said there is truth to the concern that the EPA needs to regulate pollution to small sources like streams, tributaries and wetlands because that pollution can affect downstream waters that people use for drinking water supply, Atkin writes. The report says, “The available science supports the conclusion that the types of water bodies identified as waters of the United States in the proposed rule exert strong influence on the physical, biological and chemical integrity of downstream waters."

The report actually favors "adding more bodies of water to the EPA’s jurisdiction," Atkin writes. "For example, the report said the EPA’s decision to exclude groundwater from Clean Water Act protection does 'not have strong scientific justification.'” (Read more)

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