Monday, May 25, 2015

#CleanWaterRules .... What’s the diff? Polluting the banks or polluting the waters.

What’s the diff? Polluting the banks or polluting the waters.

Is there a difference between those that toss PBR and Coors cans along the banks of our streams and The American Farm Bureau Federation and friends trying to mandate the right to pollute the water in the same streams?

Anglers, boaters, hikers, swimmers and downstream water users can’t understand either group. We can pick up the litter and tsk,tsk the thoughtless who did it, but once the dirt, bacteria, fertilizers, manure, acid, and heavy metals have killed the bugs and fish, we CAN NOT clean it up on our own. We have to wait until the EPA declares it a superfund site, and then with tax payer money and fines we, the people, clean it up. Clear Creek, Overland Park, Rocky Mountain Arsenal are examples of EPA cleanups we enjoy in Colorado. 
As we all know, it is illegal to litter and when caught you’ll be fined. But thanks to a couple narrow court cases and some confusing administrative guidance in 2003, it’s really easy to get away with polluting upstream water and destroying wetlands.
The Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency are close to promulgating a simple rule that defines what “The Waters of the United States” are for purposes of Clean Water Act of 1972. The purpose of that act was to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation’s waters … and maintaining the integrity of wetlands. Sounds just like the Trout Unlimited mission.
When the 2003 Bush administrative guidance gutted enforcement of the 1972 Clean Water Act, polluters could foul millions of wetlands, lakes and ponds that are within a state and streams that aren’t obviously connected by surface water to other navigable streams, rivers or coastal waters. The “guidance” barred Clean Water Act enforcement  for 117 million people in the US who get their drinking water in part from intermittent, ephemeral or headwater streams.  Between 2006 and 2010 EPA reported at least 1,500 major pollution investigations were shelved because of the uncertainty created by the guidance. Hazardous waste may not be dumped directly into your drinking-water supply. But a polluter may be within the law if he dumps it into a stream that feeds that supply if the stream is not obviously connected. The 2003 guidance has made it impossible for the Corps of Engineers and EPA to do their job in making and keeping our streams fishable and swimmable and our water drinkable.
The Farm Bureau has gotten itself into a position more in tune with the destruction of the EPA than in the interest of farmers. Unlike most farmers, it believes that keeping the EPA out of the water is more important that assuring the water the livestock drink won’t kill them. This is not surprising since it is in fact the voice of grain and meat processors and opposes the Clean Air Act, Voting Rights Act, Department of Education, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Their lobbying effort and social media campaign against the “Definition of Waters” rule focus on building fear that the EPA rule will force farmers to get permits to build fences, use pesticides, and dig ditches. Here is the EPA’s campaign.
Decide for yourself who is “overreaching.” Here are the two pages of the rule.
Support the Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency rule “Definition of ‘The Waters of the United States’ Under the Clean Water Act” so that once again it is clear which specific waters of the US are protected from pollution.
  • It protects all tributary streams and waters adjacent to such streams or other covered waters (adjacent meaning along the bank of, or in the floodplain area of, covered waters), because the science confirms they have a significant effect on the biological, chemical, or physical condition of downstream water bodies that are navigable or that are interstate.
  • It does not fully protect “other waters” – ones more distant from covered waters.  It would allow them to be protected if they are shown to collectively play a significant function with respect to downstream waters in the watershed.
  • It lays out what activities and what water bodies are not covered by the law’s programs, by reaffirming a number of pre-existing exemptions and by codifying for the first time exemptions that had previously only been followed as a matter of administrative policy (for instance, stock ponds dug in uplands).  The rules will also specifically exclude certain things that nobody really thought were waters of the US, such as groundwater and tile drains.
  • It explains that certain agricultural practices aimed at improving water quality are entitled to an exemption from the Corps’ permit program, an action the agencies made immediately effective.
To support this rule and tweet our Senators
@SenBennetCO @SenCoryGardner Support #CleanWaterRules  We must restore and maintain the biological integrity of the nation’s waters.
More opinions and facts about this rule:
From the National Resources Defense Council.
From Environment and Energy Publishin
From Fly Rod and Reel. Ted Williams
From the New York Times

New Belgium Brewery wants Clean Water