|May, 2015: Hooray! Courtesy of Sierra Club|
My primary concerns were, and remain:
- the new definitions of streams are arbitrary and will open up CWA to additional evisceration in federal courts
- for urban, suburban, and agricultural streams already damaged by human activity, the Clean Water Rule will make it difficult and extremely expensive to actually restore these degraded aquatic habitats. US EPA watershed restoration goals will suffer mightily.
- the Rule claims to be science-based but provides clearly illegal exemptions for uses like mountaintop removal waste storage in trout streams (what?!)
- the Rule claims to be science-based but exempts all existing agricultural uses from compliance, which obviously is *not* science based. Damaging litigation will result.
|July 2015: Abort! Abort! Courtesy: Waterkeeper Alliance|
What's more of a surprise are the US Army Corps of Engineers memos to US EPA that were released last week, stating on the record that:
- Unsupportable EPA positions claiming to be joint EPA-Corps decisions needed to have the Corps logo and agency name redacted because the Corps did not support the decisions made
- The Corps has been telling US EPA for months that the Clean Water Rule would not be implementable in the field, as it is arbitrary
- The Corps warns that the Clean Water Rule would open up the Corps and EPA to significant threat of federal litigation, due to its arbitrary language
- The Corps memos offer assistance to EPA when EPA is "ready to proceed with logical guidance."
It's funny, when I wrote those things, I was merely a "Sportsman in Name Only". Now apparently the 32,000 engineers, scientists, and lawyers of the US Army Corps of Engineers agree that these items are "worthy of concern." As does the National Association of Counties. As does the Waterkeeper Alliance. And the National Wildlife Federation, the Attorneys General of 31 states, and the Natural Resource Defense Council. And the uber-liberal Center for Biological Diversity.
In our working world, it's really disappointing to watch the vaunted, veteran conservationists clap like seals when something new and shiny is proposed by the world's largest environmental regulatory agency (US EPA). Let alone to applaud a nearly 900 page legal ruling within minutes of its public release, without having read it first. And then, adding insult to injury, to angrily turn around and sue to stop that same legal ruling just weeks later, once they've read the fine print that critics like myself warned about so sternly.
I'm ready to pour another cup of coffee and watch the Clean Water Rule churn through 6-8 years of federal lawsuits, ending inevitably at the US Supreme Court. These lawsuits seek to dismiss the Rule because it is simultaneously too broad and too narrow. Legal experts refer to that as "arbitrary," which indicates that these lawsuits will be successful in their short-term aim of disemboweling the Clean Water Rule.
But perhaps I'm being too bold. What do I know, as a 20 year wetland practitioner and Sportsman in Name Only? I'll be out restoring wetlands and pulling tires out of illegal dumps. Call me if you need me.