In an August 4 Baltimore Sun op-ed, Chesapeake Sustainable Business Council Executive Director Stephen Schaff argued that supporting the federal “Waters of the US” proposed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the United States Army Corps of Engineers makes good sense for Maryland businesses. Under the rule, the definition of what constitutes “waters of the United States” would be expanded to include certain seasonal streams and wetlands. The newly included water features would be subject to the permitting and pollution mitigation requirements of the federal Clean Water Act. The National Association of Counties and some Maryland counties have expressed concern about county-owned road and drainage ditches coming under federal purview.
In his op-ed, Mr. Schaff argued that the new rule will provide businesses with greater certainty in light of past United States Supreme Court rulings about which waterways are subject to the Clean Water Act and protect Maryland’s existing job and industry base. He also cited a poll conducted by the American Sustainable Business Council purportedly showing that the majority of small businesses support the new rule.
The rule will give the business community an added dose of certainty — something they have been asking for ever since the Supreme Court ruled more than a decade ago. That’s why 80 percent of small business owners said they would support such a rule, according to recent polling released by the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC). …
But the benefits to businesses go beyond that. Industries from fishing and agriculture to tourism and even technology rely on a consistent availability of clean water. Without it, they simply cannot operate. Ask any crabber whose catch will be limited this year, or the dozens of breweries now operating in Maryland.
That recent ASBC poll found that 71 percent of small business owners saw clean water regulations as crucial for economic growth, while only six percent said they were a hardship.