EPA proposes rule clarifying Clean Water Act protections for streams and wetlands

03/25/14 Seán Kinane
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Tags: EPA, Clean Water Act, rivers, water, streams, wetlands, regulations


The Hillsborough River in downtown Tampa.

photo by Seán Kinane/WMNF News (Sept. 2009).

Tuesday the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a rule aimed at clarifying and strengthening the Clean Water Act.

The rule was published on the EPA website and says it would ‘enhance protection for the nation’s public health and aquatic resources … by increasing clarity as to the scope of “waters of the United States” protected under the Act.’

In an online video, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy says the new rule will help identify streams and wetlands that need protection.

The proposed Clean Water Act rule was also signed by the Department of Defense and the Department of the Army, Corps of Engineers.

"Today EPA is taking action to keep America's waters clean and healthy. For more than 4 decades the Clean Water Act has safeguarded our rivers, lakes, wetlands, and coastal waters. But over the past 15 years 2 complicated court decisions have tangled up implementation of the law. It's been incredibly difficult to determine what is and what isn't protected. That's put wetlands, streams, and other water bodies at risk. These pristine places are critical for safe drinking water. But you know it's more than that. It's about protecting our natural resources. It's about unspoiled places to fish, hunt, and swim for this generation and beyond. Every sector in our economy depends on water. From farms that produce our food, fuel, and fiber to manufacturers who make everything from our cars to our computers as well as the energy industry that generates affordable power for our homes and our businesses. The rule we're releasing today was developed with the Army Corps of Engineers with input from industries all across the country. Using the best available science we can identify and protect interconnected wetlands and streams that are vital to healthy waters and vital to healthy communities downstream. To be clear; our proposal does not add to or expand the scope of waters historically protected under the Clean Water Act. It clarifies which waters are protected and which waters are not. It cuts red tape. It gives certainty to business and it clears the way for the Clean Water Act to do it's job so future generations can continue to enjoy these precious places."

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