The EPA has proposed new rules that clarify protection under the Clean Water Act for streams and wetlands that form the foundation of the nation’s water resources.
The American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) will be holding a conference call on Thursday, April 16 at noon Mountain to provide an update on these new rules. The call will be moderated by Richard Eidlin of ASBC. Speakers will include Jon Devine of the National Resource Defense Council; Ryan Seiger, Congressional Staff for the House Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment; and Eric Henry of TS Designs.
You can register for the call here.
According to the EPA, these new rules will do the following:
- Reduce confusion about Clean Water Act protection. Determining when the Clean Water Act protected streams and wetlands became confusing and complex following Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006.
Specifically, the proposed rule clarifies that under the Clean Water Act:
- Most seasonal and rain-dependent streams are protected.
- Wetlands near rivers and streams are protected.
- Other types of waters may have more uncertain connections with downstream water and protection will be evaluated through a case specific analysis of whether the connection is or is not significant. However, to provide more certainty, the proposal requests comment on options protecting similarly situated waters in certain geographic areas or adding to the categories of waters protected without case specific analysis.
- Provide more public benefits than costs. The proposed rule would provide an estimated $388 million to $514 million annually of benefits to the public, including reducing flooding, filtering pollution, providing wildlife habitat, supporting hunting and fishing, and recharging groundwater. The public benefits significantly outweigh the costs of about $162 million to $278 million per year for mitigating impacts to streams and wetlands, and taking steps to reduce pollution to waterways.
- Help states to protect their waterways. According to a study by the Environmental Law Institute, 36 states have legal limitations on their ability to fully protect waters that are not covered by the Clean Water Act.
You can read the proposed WOTUS rules here.
You can download the Environmental Law Institute report on legal limitations on states’ ability to protect waters not covered by the Clean Water Act here. The section on Montana begins on page 143.
You can download the EPA’s cost-benefit analysis of the WOTUS rules here.
You can access other documents related to the rulemaking here.
Find background information on the Clean Water Act here.
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