“We consider this an extreme overreach,” Don Parrish, senior director of regulatory relations for the American Farm Bureau, told Circle of Blue. “We need a rule where the EPA can’t regulate land. We definitely need them propose something that is very clear in its limits and complies with both the intent of Congress and the Supreme Court rulings.”
The 45-year-old Clean Water Act proved its effectiveness by limiting pollution that reached the nation’s major water bodies – lakes, rivers, and harbors. But the improvements in water quality have reached a plateau over the last decade, and in many parts of the country water quality is deteriorating, according to federal and state monitoring. One reason is the influx of pollutants from land that drain into small streams and wetlands throughout large watersheds and can accumulate downstream in major waterbodies. Another reason, say environmental groups, is that the government’s jurisdiction to limit pollution in those areas is not clear.
“You don’t need to look very far back in the news to see how fragile our surface water supplies are.” –Jon Devine, Senior attorney, Natural Resources Defense Council
In practice, both sides agree, the Clean Water Act’s application to small streams and wetlands has been so inconsistently interpreted by the courts in the past 15 years that no one--not the Environmental Protection Agency, not conservation groups, not the community of regulated developers, builders and farmers--seems to know which bodies of water it protects and which ones are beyond its reach. The result has been a timely and costly enforcement process. Many alleged infractions are dragged through the courts on a case-by-case basis to determine if the affected waterway is a “water of the United States” and therefore subject to regulation.
Last year, the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed the Clean Water Rule in order to clarify their jurisdiction. Relying heavily on a review of 1,200 scientific papers, the proposed rule reflects a straightforward conclusion: small waterways and wetlands upstream, even if they don’t flow year-round, significantly affect the water quality of larger rivers and lakes downstream and should therefore be protected. http://www.circleofblue.org/2015/world/united-states-clean-water-quandary-begins-on-land/
Corporations are seeking to control and restrict our increasingly scarce and polluted water supplies. But we must treat water like the priceless resource it is—and as a human right.
Water is essential for life, but increasingly, it is viewed as a source of windfall profits. This is unacceptable. Access to clean water should not be based on who can pay the most.
Food & Water Watch opposes the commodification and privatization of water in all forms. We support managing water supplies as a public trust, improving our public water systems and making water service safe and affordable for all. https://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/problems/corporate-control-water
What we see in the USA is a steady collapsing of education, common sense, goodwill, uplift and real justice; in the place of simple and true ethics we get more and more emphasis across the land on money, on courts and lawyers, on decision-making being taken out of local hands by political/financial interests on the East Coast and their minions.
So much big money/power and influence/lobbying take place on the East Coast that things grow absurd and then more absurd. Cases abound; for those thoughtful research can help. -r, mt. shasta