EPA moves to clean up the Clean Water Act

Good news for everyone who likes clean drinking water

Topics: Clean Water Act, EPA, Drinking Water, water safety, wetlands, ,

Under the Clean Water Act, as it’s currently enforced, companies that are prohibited from dumping pollution into major waterways are able to go ahead and dump their pollution into streams that feed into those major waterways instead. It’s a bit of a problem for the over 177 million people who get their water from such streams.

A new rule proposed Tuesday by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers aims to change that. It would clarify that the EPA has jurisdiction over ephemeral and intermittent streams — the kind that only start flowing when it rains — and adjacent wetlands, leading to stricter pollution controls, and thus safer water, in those places.

As EPA administrator Gina McCarthy was careful to clarify, the proposed rule doesn’t expand the Clean Water Act at all — it’s simply the matter of the EPA asserting its authority. Despite her reassurances, however, some developers and farmers are accusing the government of overreach. And Media Matters has more on the conservative media’s minor freak-out, under which the proposal is being characterized as ”one of the biggest land grabs by the federal government ever perpetrated on the American public.” (The Sierra Club, for what it’s worth, calls it “a common-sense approach to protecting our nation’s lakes, rivers and streams” that will help ensure “the health of our families, our environment, and our economy.”)

The Associated Press has more on what the rule would actually do:



Environmental groups said the rule would restore protection to most of the 20 million acres of wetlands and 60 percent of the nation’s stream miles that had been lost under Bush administration policies.

The rule would not expand the Clean Water Act and would cover only types of waters that historically have been protected, despite fears of farmers and ranchers that it would regulate virtually all waters, McCarthy said. Tile drainage systems would not be regulated and there would be no new requirements for irrigation and drainage ditches.

Exemptions already granted for farming activities would continue and 53 agricultural conservation practices would be added to the list.

The proposed rule will be open for public comment for 60 days.

Lindsay Abrams

Lindsay Abrams is a staff writer at Salon, reporting on all things sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @readingirl, email labrams@salon.com.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Burger King Japan

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Burger King's black cheeseburger: Made with squid ink and bamboo charcoal, arguably a symbol of meat's destructive effect on the planet. Only available in Japan.

    Elite Daily/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    McDonald's Black Burger: Because the laws of competition say that once Burger King introduces a black cheeseburger, it's only a matter of time before McDonald's follows suit. You still don't have to eat it.

    Domino's

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Domino's Specialty Chicken: It's like regular pizza, except instead of a crust, there's fried chicken. The company's marketing officer calls it "one of the most creative, innovative menu items we have ever had” -- brain power put to good use.

    Arby's/Facebook

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Arby's Meat Mountain: The viral off-menu product containing eight different types of meat that, on second read, was probably engineered by Arby's all along. Horrific, regardless.

    KFC

    2014's fast food atrocities

    KFC'S ZINGER DOUBLE DOWN KING: A sandwich made by adding a burger patty to the infamous chicken-instead-of-buns creation can only be described using all caps. NO BUN ALL MEAT. Only available in South Korea.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Waffle Taco: It took two years for Taco Bell to develop this waffle folded in the shape of a taco, the stand-out star of its new breakfast menu.

    Michele Parente/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger: Only attendees at the San Diego County Fair were given the opportunity to taste the official version of this donut-hamburger-heart attack combo. The rest of America has reasonable odds of not dropping dead tomorrow.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Quesarito: A burrito wrapped in a quesadilla inside an enigma. Quarantined to one store in Oklahoma City.

    Pizzagamechangers.com

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Boston Pizza's Pizza Cake: The people's choice winner of a Canadian pizza chain's contest whose real aim, we'd imagine, is to prove that there's no such thing as "too far." Currently in development.

    7-Eleven

    2014's fast food atrocities

    7-Eleven's Doritos Loaded: "For something decadent and artificial by design," wrote one impassioned reviewer, "it only tasted of the latter."

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

Loading Comments...