Processing Magazine

Controversial draft rule on EPA water regulation stirs opinions

February 13, 2014

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently working on a rule that aims to clarify the definition of U.S. waters, in a bid to expand the scope of bodies of water that come under its regulation. According to Bloomberg BNA, a leaked version of the draft proposal has raised concerns that the agency may not be proposing the most effective measures.

The version of the draft rule that was leaked sought to include the vast majority of natural and artificial tributaries, along with wetlands adjacent to or neighboring larger downstream bodies of waters. In addition, the draft rule would allow the agency to assess the aggregate effect of other, isolated wetlands and bodies of water on downstream waters and to include them in its regulation if necessary.

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Many organizations have claimed that this would be a "regulatory overreach," suggesting that the regulation of water bodies should be left to individual states, Bloomberg BNA reported. One of these groups, the Farm Bureau, claimed that expanding the Clean Water Act the way the draft rule stated would even mean regulating wetlands that "are not wet most of the time."

Meanwhile, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack commented that the draft rule that was leaked did not necessarily represent the view of the EPA on the matter and the final proposal could be very different from the draft.