Tuesday, November 11, 2014

My Comments on the Proposed Waters of the US Rule: Part 2 of 8: New Rule is NOT Science Based

Note:  Portions of this letter to the US EPA will be posted every eight hours between November 10 and November 12.  Check back in! 

My name is River Mud.  I am a wetland systems ecologist and twice-confirmed Professional Wetland Scientist with 17 years experience siting, monitoring, designing, and constructing habitat and stormwater projects in 14 states.   I have reviewed the documents proffered by the US EPA on the "New Rule" for Waters of the United States, and have also reviewed the Scientific Review Board's findings.  As a career professional in wetland and stream conservation, and as a staunch conservationist in my personal life and actions, I cannot and do not support the New Rule as currently drafted in October, 2014.  I have ample experience and expertise to support this position.

Science vs. Policy
Comment:   EPA has repeatedly claimed that current agricultural exemptions will remain in place as a result of the science-based New Rule.   However, the previous sentence cannot be true, as a whole.  Federal reports in the public domain contain numerous references to the fact that much, even "the majority" of surface water pollution originates on active farmland and rangeland.  EPA itself has stated that the final frontier of unregulated surface water pollution is American agriculture.  Therefore, to exempt current farming activities from future regulation eviscerates any claim that the New Rule is science based.  Good reasons (such as economics and export balances) exist to exempt many current farming activities from CWA provisions, however, stream biology and aquatic chemistry - the EPA's purview - are not among those reasons.    This is in no way "science based."

In addition, the glaring omission of prairie pothole wetlands, by their very nature failing Justice Kennedy's "significant nexus" test, will remain wholly unregulated by the Clean Water Act even under the New Rule - an outcome which I personally and professionally find unacceptable.  Unlike many types of wetlands, restoration of prairie potholes is exceedingly difficult, as proper soils take hundreds or thousands of years to develop in that region.   Moreso than most regions in the country, the Missouri Coteau has wetlands that simply cannot easily be replaced or mitigated.  EPA knows this, yet chose to omit prairie pothole wetlands from jurisdiction under the New Rule, while choosing to regulate highway ditches with seasonally high flow, instead.  This is an aberration of science, not a rule based on it.


Recommendation:  Strike any reference to the New Rule being "scientifically derived" or "science based," since EPA readily admits that the single greatest unregulated threat to federal waterway integrity will in fact not be regulated under this proposed Rule.  

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oakleyses said...
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oakleyses said...
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