The Clean Water Act: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back
Yesterday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it is sending a draft Clean Water Act rule to the Office of Management and Budget for review – the first step in any rulemaking process. EPA also released a report yesterday that summarizes the science on connectivity among streams, rivers, wetlands, and other waters. These are positive steps and the League supports them.
Longstanding Clean Water Act protections for headwater streams, prairie potholes, and other waters were undermined by Supreme Court rulings made in 2001 and 2006 – and these decisions only created confusion about which types of waters are protected by the law. This uncertainty was compounded by guidance documents released in 2003 and 2008 by the Bush administration that further restricted the waters agency staff should consider protected under the Clean Water Act – a move that ignored science and the clear connections between many waters.
The League and colleague groups have been working for many years to restore these protections. Over the past few years, we pressed EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to replace the flawed agency guidance with science-based guidance and to initiate a more comprehensive rulemaking to ensure these waters would continue to be protected. However, the Obama administration announced yesterday that it will not issue the Clean Water Act guidance it proposed a few years ago.
Although the League is going to focus on ensuring the new rulemaking is successful, we believe the guidance was sound and would have provided critical protections in the near term. With the ongoing threats to streams and wetlands across the country, it is now imperative that EPA and the Corps move expeditiously to propose a rule for public comment.
The League's press release can be found on our Web site. http://www.iwla.org/index.php?ht=displa ... nspecified You can access EPA's connectivity report and related information on the EPA Web site. http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/cfm/recordisp ... nspecified
We will be in touch with developments related to the proposed rule and how you can participate in the process. Thank you for your support.
IWLA Conservation Director