WOTUS? Another acronym! We live in a world of acronyms. It makes people feel isolated if they aren’t up to speed with the latest techno-speak. Examples include the USA, UN, NATO, EPA, ISIS or ISIL, the IRS, DHS, DOD, DOE, BLM just to name a few. POTUS means the President of the United States to those that are in the know. So would you understand a statement that “POTUS was told by the UN that DHS should be prepared for an ISIS threat or they would bring NATO into the USA to make us mind our P’s and Q’s”? Well, hang on to your hat, because WOTUS is going to shock you!
WOTUS means Waters Of The United States! It refers to new regulations coming from EPA (that’s the Environmental Protection Agency) that add laws to protect clean water. But don’t we already have regulations that protect water? When in doubt, go right to the EPA and they should tell us the facts. (http://www2.epa.gov/uswaters) There it is, all laid out: what the rule does; what the rule doesn’t do; that streams and wetlands matter; the benefits for agriculture; why they have to do another rulemaking; and why our input is important. Sounds good so far, but the devil is in the details.
According to the EPA website: The proposal does not protect any new type of waters. The proposal does not broaden coverage of the Clean Water Act that the new rule replaces. It doesn’t regulate groundwater, much! And it doesn’t expand jurisdiction over ditches, much either! Apparently there is a problem though, because this new effort is to reduce confusion about the Clean Water Act, and clarify the types of waters regulated by that Act. It seems unimaginable that something that a government agency did would be confusing and needed clarification. Maybe, we just didn’t realize that the “old” Clean Water Act covers more types of waters than we knew. Or, could it be that EPA thinks they have jurisdiction that we didn’t recognize? An even worse scenario is that EPA is just not telling us the facts about this new rule.
Enter CFACT! Yes, another acronym for a citizen’s action group that has researched the pending rules and has interesting “facts” posted on their own website. (http://www.cfact.org/2014/09/29wotus-the-facts-about-epas-wet-fiction/) CFACT closely examined EPAs rulemaking, and concluded that much of what EPA is saying is simply not true! EPA is releasing its WOTUS onslaught of new rules to clear up “uncertainties” from U.S. Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006 that they had overstepped their authority. And now they dramatically expand their reach. EPAs argument is that since all water eventually gets to navigable waterways, they should regulate it when it is still on land, in ditches, or in puddles when it rains. EPA believes We The People are not to be trusted with stewardship of our land and waters and insists they should require permits for all WOTUS!
EPA also claims that many stakeholders requested this new rulemaking. These stakeholders are hard to identify. Certainly, there is no mandate from Congress to increase regulation. A wide variety of private sector activities on land including homebuilding, construction, agriculture, ranching and mining will be adversely impacted. Landowners themselves are frustrated beyond words by prospects that EPA will dictate a whole new list of permissible land-use restrictions. It is clear that the Clean Water Act did confuse a wide array of people and organizations. EPA continues in a long tradition of overreach and bad judgment. The Clean Water Act was bad because it is a bureaucratic nightmare. WOTUS is worse!
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