Mon 4/15: Those who would destroy our clean water protections are so close, they can taste it. So will we. “Waters of the U.S.”, Comment by tonight at 11:59 EST.

Action – The administration would like to redefine “water”. You know that this isn’t good. Save the current version of “Water of the United States” (WOTUS)

Clean water is not just a problem for Flint Michigan…
The Clean Water Act (CWA) has been regulating water in the United States since 1972 with bipartisan support under multiple administrations. In 2015, Obama’s EPA created the Waters of the United States (WOTUS), which added science-based protections and clarified terms, using the best input from reputable scientists, the Army Corps of Engineers, the public, agriculture, environmentalists, and more. Even with those protections in place, in any given year from 1982 to 2015, between 9 million and 45 million Americans got their drinking water from a source that was in violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act. Most at risk: people who live in rural, low-income areas.

Utilities, fossil fuel, mining, and farming interests are now expecting their return on investment in Trump, their lobbyists arguing that WOTUS defined federally regulated waters too broadly and that the scope should be limited per Supreme Court Justice (and noted NON-SCIENTIST) Scalia’s opinion to “only relatively permanent, standing or flowing bodies of water.” Then-EPA administrator Scott Pruitt issued a proposal in June 2017 to roll back the expanded definition, and our protections to having clean water. In January 2018, the EPA formally suspended the rule for two years, and in December, the administration unveiled a new plan to replace the rule. The deadline to make comments is TONIGHT (4/15), 11:59 pm EST.

  • Proposed rule here. Comment here.
  • Read other comments for inspiration here.

Comment examples: 

NEVER COPY a comment straight out. They will only count a unique comment once. Make it sound like you.

Comment: I oppose the proposed Rule because it is unsupported by peer-reviewed science. It has not been developed using the critical scientific analysis that supported the 2015 CWR rulemaking process, and it has not been subjected to a rigorous independent scientific review process.”

Comment: The Clean Water Act gives us the legal framework to protect and clean up the nations waterways after decades of neglect and it gives any citizen the right to sue polluters to protect our waters. This proposal puts every waterway, no matter the size, at risk and threatens our drinking water.

Comment: I have been and continue to be a supporter of President Trump. I am also a resident of North Carolina and enjoy the coastal waters of that state. I urge legislators and the president to reconsider this proposal and continue to leave protections in place for waters of the United States.

Comment: I fully support the aim and content of the current Clean Water Rule, which ensures that Clean Water Act (CWA) programs are more precisely defined and would save time, costs, and confusion in future implementation of the act. If the CWR must be rewritten, it should only make more clear protection of wetlands and other non-navigable waters that connect directly to millions of Americans’ drinking water, environments, and flood-prone areas. The EPA has a responsibility to use the copious scientific evidence available to protect clean water for all of us.

Comment: I object to the proposed change in the definition of waters of the United States as it sharply undercuts the effectiveness of the Clean Water Act by limiting the ability of the EPA to control water pollution, even in waters that fall within the more restrictive definition. Based on scientific assessments all water bodies even wetlands not directly connected to navigable bodies and temporary waters ultimately flow into the covered areas and excluding these bodies of water from pollution control will lead to increase pollution levels in covered areas and threaten drinking water as well as essential ecological systems key wildlife habitats. Costs required to prevent pollution of these waters should be considered an expected expenditure of industrial, ranching, farming, and even residential landscaping while the rights to clean water and healthy ecosystems for all Americans take precedence as was the intent of the Clean Water Act.

Comment: Trumps new water rule disregards the connectivity and integrity of our watersheds and provides a blanket handout to industry to destroy, fill, and pollute rivers, creeks, wetlands, arroyos and streams. Americans have intense feelings about clean water and are willing to make the necessary investments in the nations waterways to achieve and maintain clean water. Time and time again our nations citizens have expressed a deep concern about safety and quality of tap water, about renovation of aging and outdated water utilities, and about pollution by sewage, industrial chemicals and agricultural runoff. Plans to weaken protections for this countrys drinking water and water infrastructure have always been met with serious opposition. This time is no different. Resistance to Trumps new water rule is universal. After all, everyone, without exception, needs clean water. Just listen.

Comment: The current EPA rules for the Clean Water Act has kept many waterways clean and safe. These waterways are used to provide clean water to households and other residencies for everyday use. Without these regulations, many cities and places with high tourism rates, will not have access to clean water, affecting those citizens living and visiting there. Allowing pollution to enter into waterways will easily allow for this pollution to proceed into larger bodies of water. This will make it affect almost all drinking water available to citizens. According to publichealthnewswire.org, 1/3 of threatened and endangered species live in only wetlands. When this water becomes polluted, the chances of those species going extinct will only rise. Providing better water in waterways will provide better water in larger bodies of water. These reasons, and more, are why I am asking you to please reconsider the rule of Revised Definition of Waters of the United States.

Comment: As a 73 year old Missouri resident a who has farms, and is a retired Engineer I am opposed to redefinition of the waters of the US as it is another means of allowing more pollutants migrate into our drinking water. For the last few decades great advances have been made in the small streams and tributaries in cleaning up the water quality. We do not need to go backwards. It seems that large agri business and other business wants to make their life easier and more profitable at the expense of residents. A significant concern is the impact of CAFO’s and the lack of monitoring of their discharge via manure and run off that ends up in our water supply. These are spreading into Missouri and affecting small streams and tributaries. One only needs to dd a Google search to find some of these problems. Some of the most notable are at the mouth of the Mississippi and Florida coast. Our water supply is very important for the health and welfare of all. We need to error on the side of caution instead on the side of profit.

Comment:  I am against revision of current Clean Water Act ( ACT ) protections for America’s streams, rivers, and wetlands. In particular, I am against excluding from protection under the ACT wetlands not directly connected to major bodies of water, seasonal ( ephemeral ) streams, and other small bodies of water. Removing these wetlands and streams from protection opens them to degradation and pollution, potentially without restraint or regulation. This in turn provides a direct avenue for pollution of ground water, pollution of larger bodies of water not immediately adjacent to the un-protected wetlands but in fluvial contact with them, degradation of fisheries, and potential degradation of drinking and agricultural water sources. As a sportsman and angler, I am concerned about the negative impact of removing wet- lands and streams from the ACT on sport fishing and recreational activities dependent on wetlands and clean water, such as waterfowl viewing and hunting. As a consumer, I am concerned about the negative impact of removing wet-lands and streams on culinary agriculture and food fish. As a physician, I am extremely concerned about the impact of removing wetlands, streams, and waterways on water supplies of all types and the consequent predicted negative impact on public health. The plan to revise the definition of waters in the United States and to remove many wetlands,  streams, and other water sources from protection under the Clean Water Act is foolhardy and contrary to the well-being of the American people. Do not do it.

Comment: The EPA is an agency of the United States federal government whose mission is to protect human and environmental health. Proposing to roll back clean water protections for wetlands and small streams is quite contradictory to your agency as a whole, as roll backs would impact both human health and environmental health.

Being an agency directly responsible for environmental health, there is no need to explain the interconnectedness of ecosystems, and how small changes to one aspect of the environment often leads to more severe impacts elsewhere.

When it comes to clean water, the EPA should be implementing more protections, not less, which is why I strongly oppose the administration’s proposed roll back of water protections for wetlands and small streams. All our waters are connected. Small streams and wetlands contribute to the health of larger water bodies downstream. Removing waters from Clean Water Act protection could add to water quality problems, negatively impact flood control and wildlife, including endangered and threatened species. I am vehemently opposed to implementing this proposed rollback, and will question the integrity of the EPA if the administration is successful in stripping protections for these waterways.

Background

This following video is pre-2015.

This has everything in it. It’s an hour, but you can skim the visuals too. Some sound issues in the middle.

Waters of the US (WOTUS): What You Need to Know About the Rule and How to Take Action from Lauren Maza

 

A brief tour through evolution of “water” history shows two clear scientifics points:

  • Streams and wetlands, no matter their size or frequency of flow, connect to downstream water, and ultimately affect entire watersheds.
  • Wetlands and open waters in riparian areas(transitional areas between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems) and floodplains are physically, chemically, and biologically integrated with rivers via functions that improve downstream water quality. These systems act as buffers to protect downstream waters from pollution and are essential components of river food webs

Trump, in his zeal to hand over the environmental keys to his fossil fuel, chemical manufacturers, mining industry and big AG donors, would like to replace the Waters of the U.S. rule.

Below is a video from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, expressing gratitude that their lobbying efforts to protect one of the most polluting industries in the US is finally working out under Trump. Raising livestock for meat, eggs and milk generates 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, the second highest source of emissions and greater than all transportation combined. It also uses about 70% of agricultural land, and is one of the leading causes of deforestation, biodiversity loss, and water pollution. Today, over a million people are estimated to take their drinking water from groundwater that shows moderate or severe contamination with nitrogen-containing pollutants (Nolan and Hitt, 2006), mostly due to the heavy use of agricultural fertilizers and high rates of application of animal waste.

The Trump administration  replacement would reportedly:

  • Reverse the 2015 Clean Water Rule in effect in 22 states, DC and the US Territories, and the pre-2015 Regulations and Guidance in effect in 28 states. Eliminates Justice Kennedy’s 2006 Rapanos “significant nexus” test for jurisdiction.
  • not consider or address the “No net loss of wetlands” national policy established by George H. W. Bush in 1989.
  • eliminate protections for all ephemeral streams and wetlands that do not have a surface connection to, or touch, navigable waters, and opens the door to removing protections for intermittent streams.
  • eliminate federal protections for areas that contain water only after rainfall. It would no longer regulate groundwater, storm water, wastewater and land already converted for crops.
  • eliminate regulation of ditches other than canals, such as the Erie Canal, that are used for commercial shipping or are affected by tides.
  • allow industrial agriculture operations to release unregulated amounts of pollutants
  • allow landowners to destroy wetlands that protect our vital drinking water resources.
  • It will make it easier for  pipelines and other infrastructure to run through these previously protected areas.
  • destroys the concept of connectivity between water supplies.

Fast History of “WOTUS”.

1973: The EPA issued its first set of regulations to implement the 1972 Clean Water Act (CWA). The regulation defined “navigable waters”

1986: Regulations define “waters of the United States” to include interstate waters, including interstate wetlands. In this proposal, the agencies would remove interstate waters and interstate wetlands as a separate category of “waters of the United States” to more closely align the definition to the constitutional and statutory authorities reflected in the CWA and judicial interpretations of the term “navigable waters as all

  • All navigable waters of the United States;
  • Tributaries of navigable waters of the United States; (hmmmm…)
  • Interstate waters;
  • Intrastate lakes, rivers, and streams which are utilized by interstate travelers for recreational or other purposes;
  • Intrastate lakes, rivers, and streams from which fish or shellfish are taken and sold in interstate commerce; and
  • Intrastate lakes, rivers, and streams which are utilized for industrial purposes by industries in interstate commerce.

1974: The Army Corp of Engineers defined “navigable” as waters that “are subject to the ebb and flow of the tide, and/or are presently, or have been in the past, or may be in the future susceptible for use for purposes of interstate or foreign commerce.”

1975: This was challenged in court by environmentalists in that their definition didn’t include tributaries or coastal marshes above the mean high tide mark or wetlands above the ordinary high water mark. The District Court for the District of Columbia defined “navigable waters” as not limited to traditional tests of navigability and ordered the Army to rewrite their mandate.

1975: the Corps included periodically inundated coastal wetlands contiguous with or adjacent to navigable waters, periodically inundated freshwater wetlands contiguous with or adjacent to navigable waters, and, like EPA’s 1973 regulations, certain intrastate waters based on non-transportation impacts on interstate commerce.

1977: The Corps revised the definition in 1977 to encompass traditional navigable waters, tributaries to navigable waters, interstate waters, adjacent wetlands to those categories of waters, and “[a]ll other waters” the “degradation or destruction of which could affect interstate commerce.”

1986: The Corps consolidated and recodified its regulations to align with clarifications EPA had previously promulgated.

1986: New regulatory text.

  • All traditional navigable watersnterstate waters, and the territorial seas;
  • All impoundments of jurisdictional waters;
  • All “other waters” such as lakes, ponds, and sloughs the “use, degradation or destruction of which could affect interstate or foreign commerce”;
  • Tributaries of traditional navigable waters, interstate waters, the territorial seas, impoundments, or “other waters”; and,
  • Wetlands adjacent to traditional navigable waters, interstate waters, the territorial seas, impoundments, tributaries, or “other waters” (other than waters that are themselves wetlands).

1986: “Waste treatment systems” were excluded from the definition of “waters of the United States.”

1993: “Prior converted croplands” were excluded from the definition of “waters of the United States.”

1996: Wetland conservation “Swampbuster provisions” state that benefits and exclusions should remain in place as long as the area is devoted to an agricultural use.

2005: The 2005 Memorandum provided that a “certified [prior converted] determination made by [USDA] remains valid as long as the area is devoted to an agricultural use. If the land changes to a non-agricultural use, the [prior converted] determination is no longer applicable and a new wetland determination is required for CWA purposes.”

2007: After Rapanos v. U.S. & Carabell v. US., agencies issued the “Rapanos Guidance” that the agencies would assert jurisdiction over traditional navigable waters and their adjacent wetlands, relatively permanent nonnavigable tributaries of traditional navigable waters and wetlands that abut them, nonnavigable tributaries that are not relatively permanent if they have a significant nexus with a traditional navigable water, and wetlands adjacent to nonnavigable tributaries that are not relatively permanent if they have a significant nexus with a traditional navigable water.

2015: The agencies issued a final rule amending various portions of the Code of Federal Regulations that set forth a new definition of “waters of the United States.”

  • “Tributary” was defined as a water that “contributes flow, either directly or through another water,” to a traditional navigable water, interstate water, or the territorial seas, and that has the “physical indicators of a bed and banks and an ordinary high water
  • “Waters of the United States” included include “wetlands, ponds, lakes, oxbows, impoundments, and similar waters” that are “adjacent to” a primary water, impoundment, or tributary.
  •  “Adjacent” continued to be defined as in the 1986 regulation to mean “bordering, contiguous, or neighboring.” The 2015 Rule, however, created a new definition for “neighboring,” interpreting that term to encompass all waters located within 100 feet of the ordinary high water mark of a category

by grouping waters and features in three categories:

  • (1) Waters that are jurisdictional by rule; with distance limitations.
  • (2) waters that will be found jurisdictional only upon a case-specific showing of a significant nexus with a primary water
  • (3) waters and aquatic features that are expressly excluded from jurisdiction.

 

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