Wonders never cease. Missouri AG joined a suit against the EPA’s power expanding definition re-write. Article below with link to the original in the title:
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Attorney General Chris Koster has waded into a debate about the federal definition of “waterways” and he isn’t the only Missourian weighing in.
Koster has signed Missouri onto a lawsuit with 12 other states against the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers over the agencies’ rule defining “waters of the United States.” Koster’s office says the new rule expands the scope of clean water regulations to lands without much water at all, and increases the federal government’s authority to “control land use in Missouri.”
“The EPA and the Army Corps have exceeded their legal authority in defining what constitutes U.S. waterways,” Koster said in a statement. “If this change becomes law, thousands of acres of privately owned land in Missouri will suddenly be subject to federal water regulation. Missouri farmers will be particularly harmed by the federal government’s restrictions on how their land can be used.”
Koster says the agencies’ official definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) extends their authority to include “ponds, streams that flow only briefly during or after rainstorms, and channels that are usually dry.” The definition also expands to floodpains, even if the plains are dry 99 years out of 100, Koster says.
The lawsuit is filed in United States District Court for the District of North Dakota and “seeks an order declaring the rule is unlawful and prohibiting the agencies from implementing it.” The rule takes effect in 60 days with no such court order.
Blake Hurst, President of the Missouri farm Bureau, publicly applauded Koster’s suit.
“We applaud Attorney General Koster for filing this lawsuit against EPA and hope the courts will act quickly to halt implementation of the WOTUS rule as the issue works its way through the legal system. The EPA is guilty of a massive overreach, and we fully expect the courts will once again instruct the EPA to follow the intent of Congress.”
Congressman Jason Smith, R-MO8, has also focused his attention on the WOTUS issue. Last April, Smith added language to HR 2028 to keep the EPA from using any funds to implement the new rule. The bill passed the House, along with another piece of legislation in May with a similar prohibition on the rule.
“The administration is telling us that this rule won’t affect property owners and farmers, and that’s an absolute lie,” Smith said in a statement. “The Obama administration has misled the American people too many times to get the benefit of the doubt on something this important.”
Tags: A21, agenda 21, rural cleansing
Below is an excellent post from a site called “The Daily Herb”
My kudos to the author as she nails the clear motive straightly and clearly with the very words of those doing the disservice to us.
Here’s the in depth article by Sara Hall, compliments of “The Daily Herb”:
Rural cleansing is the purposeful removal of rural citizens from the countryside and the relocation of rural populations into urban areas. Many public officials and media pundits scoff at the mere suggestion that rural cleansing is taking place, but the problem, you see, is that there are people who have inadvertently left tell-tale clues we can use to piece together things for ourselves.
One of the most startling clues I’ve run across lately comes from a July 1, 1998 newspaper article in The Montanian, which is published in Libby, a tiny rural town in Northwest Montana.
Did She Just Say That?
In the article, Libby County Commissioner, Rita Windom, informs us that she and other commissioners were approached by Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks (FWP) state land manager, Darlene Edge, with a proposal to cooperate in driving rural residents out of the Montana countryside into cities. When commissioners responded with horror, Windom says Edge replied
“Can’t you see we are doing you a favor by forcing people to move from rural areas into the urban areas. That way you can close roads…Why don’t you work with us and move these people out of the rural areas and into the urban areas so cities can shoulder more of the responsibilities and the county can save money?”
This exchange took place in a meeting regarding a document called The Wildlife Program Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), of which only 300 were published. According to Windom, there was very little public input because the few public meetings held were so poorly advertised.
But was this just an isolated, though shocking, incident? Did this public policy only affect Montana? I don’t think so. I’ll tell you why.
Sometime around 1997 I called a Boundary County, Idaho resident from Washington State regarding possible job openings in my field in Boundary County. Her answer was that the woods had been shut down and 300 families had left. She continued on to tell me she had seen a public land management agency document outlining a plan to empty North Idaho of people and turn the entire area into a wildlife corridor. Naturally, she was outraged.
About ten years later, another reliable eyewitness told me that the same document had arrived at his home first. The document was marked not for public view. He had purchased a house that had previously been occupied by a public land management agency employee who had moved. My source had opened the document and read it. He confirmed that it said what my other friend had previously described to me. In fact, he had lent her the document, which is how she happened to know what was in it.
I was never able to get my hands on that document, but when someone sent me a camera shot of the above article in The Montanian describing much the same policy being announced at much the same time as the eyewitness accounts, I wasted no time in getting a copy of the article.
Other evidence for believing that this article in The Montanian represents policies that affect Idaho, as well as Montana, is that, not too long ago, at a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service public meeting about listing the wolverine on the Endangered Species list, we were told that Idaho and Montana are now considered to be in the same management region by the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The land and wildlife management policies are pretty much the same now. This is why huge blocks of land, taking in N.W. Montana, Northern Idaho and N.E. Washington, are included in management plans for grizzly habitat, caribou habitat, wildlife corridors, etc.
Where Did Rural Cleansing Come From?
Commissioner Windom remarks, in the Montanian article, that the Draft EIS that had upset her and other commissioners was the product of five to six years’ labor by the FWP. That puts us back to around 1992, or a year later, when the Rio Earth Summit trotted out the document, Agenda 21: the Earth Summit Strategy to Save Our Planet, and other supporting documents, for our enjoyment.
Documents and resolutions introduced at the Rio Earth Summit had been in the works for years before being introduced to the world.
Policies leading to rural cleansing are found in the document, Agenda 21: the Earth Summit Strategy to Save Our Planet, but another important source is associated with one of the other documents introduced at Rio. That was the Convention on Biological Diversity. It has been shown that the Wildlands Project is the central mechanism by which the Convention on Biological Diversity is to be implemented. The Wildlands Project calls for humans to be removed from one-half of the American land mass, and to create uninhabited corridors for wildlife to move freely from Alaska to Yellowstone Park, or farther south. It was written by radical environmentalists working in United Nations nongovernmental organizations with the full knowledge and aid of U.S. federal agencies such as U.S. Forest Service, BLM, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, EPA and others.
It appears that the Wildlands Project is now being implemented, under another name, in Idaho and the West through the Western Governors Association’s Wildlife Corridors Initiative (WCI). To learn more about that, please see my blog, Infiltration of LittleTown U.S.A.: The Wildlands Project and Agenda 21 in Idaho. Particularly, pay attention to the section subtitled “Nudging Us into the Cities.”
If we are paying attention, we can catch public officials and media pundits additionally telling on themselves by their perpetual use of disinformation. One common bit of disinformation used to mislead the public is the repeated statement that Agenda 21 is an outdated and nonbinding document. You can always tell a trained operative when statements similar to this come out of their mouth. Here is an article displaying this strategy: How the U.N.’s Agenda 21 Affects Kootenai County, Idaho.
Just two to three weeks ago, I submitted a comment on the above article. I commented that Agenda 21 is no outdated or irrelevant document, because in 2012, the United Nations held another summit called Rio+20, in which the members reaffirmed Agenda 21 as the working document for the 21st century. They also reaffirmed their commitment to the Convention on Biological Diversity. The webmaster declined to publish my comment.
To back up my comment, here is a quote found on Wikipedia’s entry for Agenda 21:
Main article: United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development
In 2012, at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development the attending members reaffirmed their commitment to Agenda 21 in their outcome document called “The Future We Want”. 180 leaders from nations participated.”
Bringing it Home
When the Wikipedia entry calls the Agenda 21 document a voluntary and nonbinding action plan, the writer fails to outline the process whereby former President Clinton issued an executive order and created the President’s Council on Sustainable Development (PCSD), which then formed policies and plans to implement Agenda 21 under soft law. Sustainable Development is the term used at United Nations and national levels to describe the goals of Agenda 21. The PCSD generated documents and guidelines, notably Sustainable America: A New Consensus for the Prosperity, Opportunity and a Healthy Environment for the Future, used by federal agencies, such as the Forest Service, EPA and others, to form policies.
These guidelines have become the overarching vision for our nation, not only for federal agencies, but also for city planners, corporate trade groups, and environmental groups, as this excerpt from Sustainable America shows.
Federal grants, monies, and other inducements, have drawn local and state governments into that implementation. I’m sure many of those public officials were ignorant of the consequences of accepting those grants at the time. Some are either still ignorant or too stubborn, or maybe even too complicit, to admit that they were duped. When soft law becomes the new normal, it can be upheld by case law. These practices are also now being codified in piecemeal legislation, comprehensive land use plans and zoning regulations.
There You Go Again
Now you will be told that county comprehensive land use plans, likewise, are nonbinding documents with no real clout. Oops—wrong again. For example, the U.S. Forest Service uses comprehensive land use plans when writing forest plans for your region. If your plan just happens to agree with their goals (and what are their goals? why, Sustainable Forestry, of course) the plan serves as cover for their management policies, because the Forest Service claims that they have coordinated with your county, as required by law, by having read and taken under consideration your comprehensive land use plan. See this video and hear F.S. employees state this over and over again, as they are being questioned regarding their latest forest plan for Idaho. I have also read that comprehensive land use plans can be used as a basis for zoning regulations and other county ordinances.
This is why various groups want to embed statements that are conducive to Sustainable Development in your county comprehensive land use plans.
Though the disinformation campaign strategy in Idaho is still one of denial and Alinsky-like mockery of Agenda 21 conspiracy theorists, as exemplified in this Spokesman-Review article, the strategy is now shifting elsewhere. Rosa Koire, speaking of California, describes how the charge of conspiracy theory is there giving way to the position that Agenda 21, and its related documents and policies, are real, but that these policies are the only feasible and just way of coping with global problems such as climate change, overpopulation, poverty and environmental degradation.
It’s the New normal, Just Accept it.
It’s no surprise, then, that FOX News just published an article entitled Foundations plan to pay news media to cover radical UN agenda. The article describes how a cadre of journalists is being trained to win the public over to U.N. Sustainable Development policies.
That’s why I just chortle when I find articles like this one, from The Montanian, containing past candid (though Kafkaesque) quotes from officials who hadn’t yet sufficiently learned to dissemble. I hope you will read the entire article, as it has additional interesting comments about the changing use of conservation easements and the way Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks was circumventing the public and county commissioners to get its way. The article is reprinted by the gracious permission of The Montanian Newspaper.
And just so we can do a little mocking of our own, let me refer you to this funny, short short video called My Daughter’s New Agenda 21 Bedroom
But, then again, after having a good chuckle, let’s move past the mockery and get down to the debate–if we can get one. If journalists are going to try to convince us that Sustainable Development, as envisioned by members and advisory groups to the United Nations, is the best path for America, we need to be ready to engage in a logical and reasonable discussion. And that will be a serious conversation, indeed.
The Montanian. “FWP plans big changes in hunting and rural living.” Libby, Montana: July 1, 1998.
*Sorry, the print on the first page is small. After posting this, I realized I had made a transcription of the first page of this article. If you scroll down, past the header front page at the bottom, you will see page 1 transcribed. Page 2 is large enough to read easily. When I got this article from microfiche, the greater amount of print on page one inhibited our ability to make the print larger and, thus, more readable.
The The Montanian July 1, 1998 (TRANSCRIPTION Page 1)
FWP plans big changes in hunting and rural living
Social Engineering is in the Works
The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks has big changes planned for the way it manages wildlife, hunting and rural living patterns. And even though the proposed changes could impact hunters, property owners and anyone who enjoys the outdoors, most Montanians are unaware of the changes.
Lincoln County Commissioner, Rita Windom, says she has only recently learned about the plan, entitled “Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement.”
“This is a document that should mean something to everybody,” Windom said Monday, June 29. “They only printed 300 copies of this document, and they only printed 250 of the actual EIS (Environmental Impact Statement). They had seven meetings in the state of Montana and I happened to get a hold of [it, because of] a meeting I had gone to back in 1992.”
Windom said the plan outlines big changes. “We were just horrified because it changes the way lands are managed and…it dramatically (effects) counties,” she said.
“This document is called “The Wildlife Program Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement.” The Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks prepared it. They’ve been working on it for five or six years at a cost of $600,000,” she said.
“There are five alternatives and they don’t list the preferred ones, which is unusual.”
Windom said she is concerned about the lack of public input into what are potentially major changes.
“One of the scary things about this document is that…the public input doesn’t go to the game commission for review (and) it doesn’t go to the people. Pat Graham, Director of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, is the decision maker. He gets to select which alternatives or a combination thereof.
“[The plan] allows some public comments…at meetings. [But] they were so ill advertised. They had the biggest one in Libby, which was the one we demanded, and we only had nine people. The meeting was May 26.”
Windom says the plan would allow FWP to sell more non-resident hunting licenses while reducing the number of licenses available for Montana residents.
“They are going to ask the Legislature to change the way they do hunting licenses. They want to allow more non-resident licenses in their formula for licenses. The way I understand it is that there will be fewer for resident hunters,” she said.
Worse, the non-resident licenses will be sold to the highest bidder.
“It will be all market-based, highest bidder. We think that is pretty unfair,” she said.
Windom says the plan goes way beyond the management of just wildlife. It also includes plans to manipulate human population in rural areas.
“They are saying they want social changes. They talk about the increasing importance of environmental concerns nationally, and the increasing reliance on referendums and grass-roots politics for political change. They [FWP] say that social and economic values towards natural resources are becoming less consumptive…nationally. The emergence of the animal rights movement exemplifies national pressure to shift to a less consumptive use at state and local levels,” Windom said, citing the plan.
Windom said she is disturbed that FWP is allowing national trends to dictate its policy.
“What is the reasoning behind allowing an animal rights movement to dictate policy on how we use Montana lands?”
Windom read aloud from Alternative 3 of the plan: “Land owners would increase, through expanded access, incentives and habitat programs. Local governments would benefit from expanded payments including those in lieu of personal property tax.” That means to me, currently we have conservation easements and they pay personal property tax on buildings, farm equipment and livestock. They they pay a payment in lieu of taxes on real estate, very small…. [FWP] is going to change the use of the land and take the personal property off the land on conservation easements, which would mean ranchers and farmers could no longer use the land the way it is currently being used. That is a big departure in the way we have known conservation easements in the past,” Windom said.
Windom said the plan would in essence tax rural property owners for the wildlife on their property.
“This is even more scary. Local governments would benefit from expanded payments, including those in lieu of personal property tax, however new initiatives pertaining to wildlife on the urban interface may [a]ffect some local residents through tax assessments, meaning that those who choose to live in the countryside would have to pay a tax to Fish, Wildlife and Parks so they could manage more effectively the wildlife there.”
Windom said one FWP employee told her the plan is designed to push rural residents into urban areas.
“When I was in Thompson Chain of Lakes meeting, Darlene Edge (FWP state lands manager) told me she didn’t understand the attitude of county commissioners. She said, “You are so reluctant to work with us on these issues…can’t you see we are doing you a favor by forcing people to move from the rural areas into the urban areas. That way you can close roads…you know your timber receipts are declining. You are going to have less money to work with. Why don’t you work with us and move these people out of the rural areas and into the urban areas so cities can shoulder more of the responsibilities and the county can save money,” Windom said.
“He said the general public knew about this before the game commission,” Windom said. “The game commission really doesn’t get any input in it.”
Windom said FWP is working to circumvent negative public opinion of the plan in at least one area.
“We had a situation up in the West Kootenai some months ago where they [FWP] came up and wanted to do a conservation easement, and the people were…
*Read the rest of the article on page 2 above
It’s like Pandora’s Box with these control freaks. If they get something and don’t have the authority to do so, well heck, we got it, so we keep it. Sigh…
The National Security Agency will mothball its mammoth archive of Americans’ telephone records, isolating the computer servers where they are stored and blocking investigators’ access, but will not destroy the database if its legal authority to collect the material expires on schedule this Sunday, officials said Thursday.
The NSA’s determination to keep billions of domestic toll records for counter-terrorism and espionage investigations adds another note of uncertainty to a debate that pits the Obama administration’s national security team against opponents who argue the government data trove violates Americans’ privacy and civil liberties.
The political and legal dispute will come to a head Sunday when the Republican-led Senate returns to work a day early to seek a resolution — hours before the law used to authorize the controversial NSA program, and several other key counter-terrorism provisions, expires at 11:59 p.m.
Senate dispute over NSA data collection threatens to shut other spy programs
Senate dispute over NSA data collection threatens to shut other spy programs
The final eight hours — starting at 3:59 p.m. Sunday — will see a flurry of activity at U.S. phone companies and at the NSA as engineers take down servers, reconfigure monitoring software and unplug hardware from the main pipeline of telephone data traffic, according to several senior administration officials.
If the Senate stalemate pushes past 7:59 p.m., holes in the incoming data will begin to appear — and will grow — until nothing is collected after midnight, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss internal planning.
“We’re in uncharted waters,” one official said. “We have not had to confront addressing the terrorist threat without these authorities. And it’s going to be fraught with unnecessary risk.”
At that point, even if the Senate acts, the officials said it could take three or four days to go back to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, also known as the FISA court, for a legal order to restart the system and to reboot the complex data transfer networks at the telephone companies and at the NSA headquarters at Ft. Meade, Md.
Any Senate action short of approving legislation that already has passed the House will result in a gap in the NSA archive of so-called metadata — records that show the time, date and numbers called, but not the contents — of virtually every domestic phone call.
Letting the bulk collection program go dark even for a few days is “playing national security Russian roulette,” said another official, and “hoping that we don’t have an instance where the FBI needs [the data] to do a national security investigation.”
If lawmakers vote before 8 p.m. Sunday, the NSA could reverse the shutdown and prevent a gap, the officials said. But that last-hour possibility appears unlikely.
We’re in uncharted waters. We have not had to confront addressing the terrorist threat without these authorities. And it’s going to be fraught with unnecessary risk. – Obama administration official
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who is running for the GOP presidential nomination and who has fought the NSA domestic program and filibustered to stop it, told supporters in a fundraising letter Thursday that he was determined to “relegate the NSA’s illegal spy program to the trash bin of history, where it belongs.”
Administration officials have stepped up their own alarms. On Wednesday, Atty. Gen. Loretta Lynch said a failure to act would cause “a serious lapse in our ability to protect the American people.”
The provision in the law used to authorize the NSA’s bulk collection program is one of three legal authorities set to expire. U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials say all three are vital to tracking potential terrorists in the United States.
The bulk collection of U.S. phone records was started in secret after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. It was specifically authorized by the FISA court starting in 2006, and was revealed to the public in 2013 in documents leaked by renegade former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Atty. Gen. Loretta Lynch said a failure to act would cause “a serious lapse in our ability to protect the American people.”
President Obama vowed to change the NSA program after Snowden’s disclosures sparked an uproar, and the White House has embraced the so-called USA Freedom Act, which passed the House on May 13 by a bipartisan vote of 338 to 88.
The measure would shift the burden of holding the data back to the telephone companies, and require them to configure their systems so the NSA could access the data. It also would require the government to get a court order to search the records for phone numbers linked to suspected terrorists at home and abroad. It sets a six-month transition period for the changes to take effect.
Lynch and James R. Clapper, the director of national intelligence, assured House leaders in a letter this month that the bill “preserves the essential operational capabilities of the telephone metadata program and enhances other intelligence capabilities needed to protect our nation and its partners.”
But the Senate debate hit a roadblock when Paul and others, including Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, argued that the NSA program should simply expire, and efforts to pass the House bill foundered in disarray Saturday before the lawmakers decamped for a weeklong holiday recess.
At that point, the NSA put planning teams on “hot standby” and started working through telecommunications engineering to prepare for shutting down the networks that now connect investigators to the phone records, according to one senior official involved in the planning.
The NSA contacted telephone companies to explain their plans and discuss how to help the private companies stop the automatic provision of calling records.
They also have sought to configure monitoring software so officials can’t access the archive. If they do, alerts will trigger and features will block the delivery of off-limits information.
“You can’t make a mistake on this,” said one of the officials. “This is the most regulated thing that we do at NSA.” If the authority lapses, he added, the agency would “lock it down with the same certainty with which we operate.”
The NSA won’t wipe the collected data off its servers, officials said, but will lock all doors into the system. Investigators could use the trove only if Congress acts and the FISA court approves new searches.
In addition to cutting off the phone searches, the expiration of the law would end the “roving wiretap” authority that lets FBI agents keep up with suspected terrorists or spies who switch “burner” phones to evade surveillance.
Another authority set to expire is the “lone wolf” provision that lets the FBI apply to the court for permission to conduct wiretaps on a target they think is engaged in a terrorist activity but who isn’t linked to a specific terrorist group.
That authority hasn’t been used, but it becomes more valuable every time Islamic State militants use the Internet to urge supporters to launch independent attacks, said one senior domestic security official.
“As we face a decentralized and increasingly dispersed terrorism threat, and one where [Islamic State] is extolling actors to conduct opportunistic attacks, this is not a tool that we want to see go away,” the official said.
Counter-terrorism officials would be facing “a big roll of the dice” if the authorities are allowed to expire, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank), ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, said in a telephone interview from Los Angeles.
“It is rare” for Republicans and Democrats to reach a “reasonable compromise” like the reform bill that passed the House, he said. “It would be a terrible shame for the Senate to squander that work.”
Here is a link to a pdf that gives a very good explanation of several areas of concern with the EPA’s self-expanding Waters of the United States rule. For those who want some more background and some solid problems to familiarize themselves with on the topic, this is a helpful paper.
Our thanks to the author, Daren Bakst and http://www.heritage.org for their work!
A new regulation has set up the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to seize control of even the smallest body of water on private land, and Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) says he “will not allow it.”Sen. Jim Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Committee on Environmental and Public Works (EPW), warns that the EPA’s final rule on the “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) represents an “unprecedented land grab” of private property – and he won’t stand for it:
“This makes it more important than ever for Congress to act. Last month, I stood with a bipartisan group of Senators to unveil S. 1140, the Federal Water Quality Protection Act, to rein in EPA’s attempt to use the Clean Water Act to expand federal control over land and water. Sen. Dan Sullivan, Chairman of the Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife Subcommittee, held a legislative hearing on the bill last week that underscored the importance of keeping the focus of the Clean Water Act on clean water and called out EPA’s attempt to use the rule as a tool for habitat protection. The EPA has set themselves up to increase federal control over private lands, and I will not allow it.
“Our committee is planning for a markup on S. 1140 this summer, as we continue our work to halt EPA’s unprecedented land grab and refocus its job on protecting traditional navigable waters from pollution.”
Likewise, Oklahoma’s Attorney General Scott Pruitt vows to use “all available legal options” to stop the “egregious power grab by the EPA to expand its regulatory reach”
“This is an egregious power grab by the EPA and an attempt to reach beyond the scope granted to it by Congress. This rule renders the smallest of streams and farm ponds subject to EPA jurisdiction. This means that the first stop for property owners is the EPA, which may deem the property owners’ waters subject to the EPA’s unpredictable and costly regulatory regime. It would be a terrible blow to the private property rights of Americans. The rule also displaces states from their historic regulatory role under the Clean Water Act. My office will pursue all available legal options to defend the interests of the state and all Oklahoma property owners.”
Under the final rule, EPA has decided that it can regulate isolated wetlands and ponds in farmer’s fields by designating them “regional treasures.”
We’ve fought against this particular agency overreach and expansion of authority through the rule making process for more than a decade. The EPA has been trying to get authority over every type of water including puddles for a long, long time. They were denied actual legislative authority to expand their powers, but that doesn’t seem to matter any more. Lawsuits are sure to begin…but until it is overthrown, enjoined, or otherwise stopped, they have legalized their power grab. Here’s an article about it:
The Obama administration asserted its authority Wednesday over the nation’s streams, wetlands and other smaller waterways, moving forward with one of the most controversial environmental regulations in recent years.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers said they are making final their proposed waters of the United States rule, which Republicans and many businesses have long panned as a massive federal overreach that would put the EPA in charge of ditches, puddles and wet areas.
“We’re finalizing a clean water rule to protect the streams and the wetlands that one in three Americans rely on for drinking water. And we’re doing that without creating any new permitting requirements and maintaining all previous exemptions and exclusions,” EPA head Gina McCarthy told reporters Wednesday.
McCarthy and other Obama officials sought to emphasize that the rule is about increasing clarity for businesses and helping make it easier to determine which waterways are subject to the pollution rules of the Clean Water Act.
“This rule is about clarification, and in fact, we’re adding exclusions for features like artificial lakes and ponds, water-filled depressions from constructions and grass swales,” she said
“This rule will make it easier to identify protected waters and will make those protections consistent with the law as well as the latest peer-reviewed science. This rule is based on science,” she continued.
With the Wednesday action, the Obama administration is doubling down on an effort that has sustained repeated attacks from congressional Republicans hoping to overturn the regulations.
In doing so, the administration is fulfilling what it sees as a responsibility to protect the wetlands, headwaters and small water bodies that can carry pollution to the larger waterways that are more clearly protected by the Clean Water Act, like bays and rivers. Officials said the rule is necessary after a pair of Supreme Court decisions in the last decade called into question Clean Water Act protections for some small tributaries, streams and wetlands that were previously covered.
Brian Deese, Obama’s top environmental adviser, said the rule is “is an important win for public health and for our economy,” and sought to paint its opponents as fighting clean water.
“The only people with reason to oppose the rule are polluters who want to threaten our clean water,” he said.
McCarthy said the regulation will result in a modest increase in the federal government’s jurisdiction, amounting to less than a 3 percent growth.
Responding to criticisms from farmers, ranchers, developers, manufacturers and others, she took time to list what is not covered by the waters of the United States rule.
“It does not interfere with private property rights or address land use,” she said. “It does not regulate any ditches unless they function as tributaries. It does not apply to groundwater or shallow subsurface water, copper tile drains or change policy on irrigation or water transfer.”
She said the rule specifically does not interfere with agriculture, nor roll back any of the existing exemptions for farmers, ranchers or foresters.
Those have been some of the most vocal opponents of the rule since it was proposed in March 2014, saying that the EPA wants to insert itself into their businesses.
While critics are unlikely to be pleased by the new rule, the EPA’s supports applauded it.
“The Obama administration listened to all perspectives and developed a final rule that will help guarantee safe drinking water supplies for American families and businesses and restore much-needed certainty, consistency, and effectiveness to the Clean Water Act,” Sen. Barbara Boxer (Calif.), top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee, said in a statement.
Environment America said the rule is an important step toward protecting drinking water for the one in three Americans whose drinking water was not sufficiently protected before.
“Our rivers, lakes, and drinking water can only be clean if the streams that flow into them are protected,” Margie Alt, executive director of Environment America, said in a statement. “That’s why today’s action is the biggest victory for clean water in a decade.”
The House has voted multiple times to overturn the rule in its draft form. Senate Republicans have taken a different strategy, with a bill to overturn the rule and give the EPA specific instructions and a deadline to re-write it.