Skip Navigation

Close and don't show again.

Your browser is out of date.

You may not get the full experience here on National Journal.

Please upgrade your browser to any of the following supported browsers:

Feds Stake Out Authority Over Streams and Wetlands Feds Stake Out Authority Over Streams and Wetlands

This ad will end in seconds
 
Close X

Not a member? Learn More »

Forget Your Password?

Don't have an account? Register »

Reveal Navigation
 

 

Energy

Feds Stake Out Authority Over Streams and Wetlands

(Lindsey Wasson/The Seattle Times-Pool/Getty Images)

photo of Clare Foran
March 25, 2014

The Environmental Protection Agency wants you to know exactly which waterways it plans to protect.

The agency floated draft rules Tuesday to define the bodies of water protected under the Clean Water Act. The rule brings the majority of U.S. streams and wetlands under EPA's jurisdiction. This means that any non-exempt activity with the potential to pollute protected waterways must first earn the agency's stamp of approval.

EPA says the standards will clarify its existing authority to protect water supplies, but the regulation is sure to prompt pushback from conservatives and agricultural sector stakeholders who have previously criticized the rulemaking as federal overreach.

 

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy took pains to ward off criticism ahead of the rule's release. "This rule does not expand the Clean Water Act," McCarthy said during a press call with reporters. "I repeat it does not protect any new types of water that have not historically been covered under the Clean Water Act."

The regulation also includes a roster of exemptions. McCarthy touted this feature of the rulemaking, saying it will make life easier for farmers. "The rule keeps intact existing Clean Water Act exemptions for agricultural activities, [and] it actually expands those exemptions," the administrator said. "This is about streamlining the process and saving money. We're providing certainty about what's in and what's out."

The standards drew quick praise from environmental heavyweights and sportsmen's groups alike. 

"The Sierra Club applauds the Obama administration for this effort to restore a common-sense approach to protecting our nation's lakes, rivers and streams. Clean water is an undeniable necessity for the health of our families, our environment, and our economy," Michael Brune, the club's executive director Club, said. 

"The waters affected by today's proposal provide vital spawning and rearing habitat for trout and salmon. Simply stated, the proposal will make fishing better, and anglers should support it," said Trout Unlimited president and CEO Chris Wood.

EPA has been working to clarify its Clean Water Act authority after Supreme Court rulings handed down in 2001 and 2006 raised questions as to just how far agency protections extended. The proposed regulation unveiled this week—commonly known as the "waters of the United States" rule—was delivered to the White House for review last September. It will be subject to a 90-day public-comment period after it appears in the Federal Register.

LIKE THIS STORY? Sign up for Energy Edge

Sign up for our daily newsletter and stay on top of energy coverage.

Sign up form for Energy Edge
Job Board
Search Jobs
Transportation Planner
American Society of Civil Engineers | Salinas, CA
Biomedical Service Internship Position
American Society of Civil Engineers | Flint, MI
Fire Sprinkler Inspector
American Society of Civil Engineers | Charlotte, NC
Deputy Director of Transit Operations
American Society of Civil Engineers | San Jose, CA
Structural Engineer
American Society of Civil Engineers | New Haven, CT
Assessment and Remediation Team Lead
American Society of Civil Engineers | Regina, SK
Professional Development Program Engineer
American Society of Civil Engineers | Farmington Hills, MI
Assistant Professor - Water Resources/Ecological Engineering
American Society of Civil Engineers | Auburn, AL
Quality Systems Manager
American Society of Civil Engineers | Greensboro, NC
Rail Field Construction Inspector
American Society of Civil Engineers | Jacksonville, FL
Manager, Quality Assurance
American Society of Civil Engineers | Memphis, TN
Sr. Controls Systems Engineer
American Society of Civil Engineers | Grand Island, NE
Quality Engineer
American Society of Civil Engineers | Attica, IN
Civil Engineering
American Society of Civil Engineers | Steamboat Springs, CO
Commissioning Intern
American Society of Civil Engineers | Chicago, IL
 
Comments
comments powered by Disqus