Jump to content

EPA rollback of Clean Water Act protections


Recommended Posts

On April 15th, public commenting for docket EPA-HQ-OW-2018-0149 closes. This move is an attempt by the Trump administration to peel back protection of US waters by redefining the nature of a watershed. If passed, currently defined headwater tributaries, streams, and wetlands will be drastically reduced (in title), thus removing them from federal protection via the long-standing Clean Water Act.


Here is a good overview of why the CWA is important:


Here is an anecdotal story from an examiner who opposes the de-regulation:


As someone who has worked with the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers specifically on the matter of streams and waterways, you are seriously mischaracterizing the process. The EPA is not patrolling the countryside looking for farmers spitting their dip in a ditch or leaving a greasy oil can beside their rain gutter.


I worked under the newer regs. We often get a call that the ACoE has tested a stream high for heavy metals, the coal mine does their own test and magically finds nothing. We’d come out as a third party, often 24 hours (or thousands of gallons of flow) later, and still find the same high levels as the ACoE. The EPA is still not involved at this point. We give our report to the ACoE and the mine, and they’ll tell the coal mine, “Hey guys! We don’t like your mercury in everyone’s water.” Many houses in Appalachia pump right from these mountain streams for their house water, their crops, and/or watering their cattle. Which is sold as all of our beef.


The mine gets some time to be a good boy, and we inevitably get a call to do the whole thing again when nothing has changed or they are finished so they moved and did the same thing to another stream. If they get busted in the same place again, now someone in the ACoE will probably report it to the EPA, which is still pretty limited in its ability to punish, so the fines may be less than the profit from the illegal dumping.


Say it’s not the same stream, but one 100 yards away. The problem is it’s functioning in the same watershed. All of these streams have a confluence somewhere and the levels there aren’t changing because one headwater stream or the other is getting totally trashed.


I’ve seen dead vertebrates floating on the shore after a retaining pond was drained off. I’ve seen streams 100% sterilized by high PH and heavy metals. Do you know how weird it is to run some habitat nets and pull up nothing? Not even a little wriggler in the substrate? Acid water in a stream as wide as a two lane road.


The regulations aren’t overbearing, they aren’t enough.


Here is the supporting side in a nutshell:


The 2015 update extended the federal govt’s control to lands over 4,000 ft from a “Navigable waterway”. The definition of “Navigable waterway” was also extended in 2015 to encompass every trickling stream and road runoff gully in all of the US.


There was nothing wrong with the 1972 act.


The Obama EPA overreached the federal power and took over control of the States water regulations. Mainly to make lawyers and regulators rich because no one knew which waters needed federal permits. The EPA is just redefining which water ways are federally protected and which are protected by state and reservations. The water ways are not going to get dirty by big businesses!



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...