(Logo is from NACo website)
An October 7 National Association of Counties (NACo) Alert announced that the public comment period for the proposed rule by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the United States Army Corps of Engineers expanding the definition of “waters of the United States” has been extended from October 20 to November 14. From the alert:
On April 21, the [EPA and Corps] jointly released a new proposed rule – Definition of Waters of the U.S. Under the Clean Water Act – that would amend the definition of “Waters of the U.S.” and expand the range of waters that fall under federal jurisdiction. The comment period deadline for the proposed rule has now been extended from October 20, 2014 until November 14, 2014 to allow the public to comment on a soon-to-be released document which provides the scientific basis for the proposed “Waters of the U.S.” rule.
The document—Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters: A Review and Synthesis of the Scientific Evidence—has been under review by EPA’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) but has not been finalized. The agencies have been under fire for releasing the proposed rule without including the connectivity report, which provides their scientific basis for the proposed rule change. So while the agencies did extend the comment period into November, it is still not known when they will release the connectivity report.
Counties are encouraged to submit comments to the agencies—comments allow the public to weigh in on proposed federal rules.
The alert also included a summary of why counties should care about this issue and instructions on submitting comments to the EPA. Several Maryland counties, including Cecil and St. Mary’s have already submitted comments and MACo will be submitting comments in the near future.