In a March 25 news alert, the National Association of Counties (NACo) reported that NACo representatives testified before a Congressional Senate committee against the “waters of the United States” rule by the Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Corps of Army Engineers. As previously reported on Conduit Street, both NACo and MACo have expressed concerns that the proposed rule would subject county-owned drainage ditches, stormwater channels, and other ephemeral waterways to the oversight and permitting requirements of the federal Clean Water Act. From the news alert:
On March 24, Ouray County, Colo. Commissioner Lynn Padgett testified on behalf of the National Association of Counties (NACo) at a hearing titled, “Waters of the United States: Stakeholder Perspectives on the Impacts of EPA’s Proposed Rule.” Padgett’s testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry highlighted impacts of the “waters of the U.S.” proposal on rural counties. The hearing was led by Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.). …
In April 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) jointly released a new proposed rule that would amend the definition of “waters of the U.S.” within the Clean Water Act and dramatically expand the range of public safety infrastructure that falls under federal permitting authority. Since its publication, NACo has expressed concerns about the scope of the proposed rule and called for the proposed rule to be withdrawn until further analysis and more in-depth consultation with state and local officials could be completed.
Chairman Roberts expressed frustration over EPA’s announcement that they are changing the name of the “waters of the U.S.” proposed rule to the “Clean Water Act Rule.”
Roberts said, “merely changing the name is not enough…change the rule. If you want to protect clean water, it is time to listen and change the rule in a manner that allows for public input and collaboration AND is effective for farmers, ranchers and rural America.” …
The focus now moves to Capitol Hill, where lawmakers plan to introduce and debate legislation to stop the proposed rule in the coming months.
The video below shows Ouray County Commissioner Lynn Padgett sharing her concerns about the proposed rule’s potential impacts on rural America.