The EPA and US Army yesterday finalized the Clean Water Rule in a move the agency says will make permitting less costly, easier and faster for businesses and industry as it more precisely defines water protected under the Clean Water Act.
Industries including agriculture, oil and home-building will likely fight the rule in court and and Republicans, along with some farm- and energy-state Democrats, are pushing legislation in both the House and Senate to kill the rule, Politico reports. Farmers have argued that the rule has the potential to massively cut production on their lands.
EPA administrator Gina McCarthy says the new rule only expands the Clean Water Act’s reach by about 3 percent.
The rule, which aims to protects US streams and wetlands from pollution, does not create any new permitting requirements for agriculture and maintains all previous exemptions and exclusions. Activities like planting, harvesting, and moving livestock have long been exempt from Clean Water Act regulation, and the Clean Water Rule preserves those exemptions.
McCarthy says the rule doesn’t interfere with private property rights, and it only covers water — not land use. It also doesn’t regulate most ditches, doesn’t regulate groundwater or shallow subsurface flows, and doesn’t change policy on irrigation or water transfers.
Photo Credit: braid of the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, via Shutterstock