May 222015

The Gray Lady, as she is sometimes known, has an article today predicting an announcement of the controversial "waters of the U.S." rule from the Obama Administration "in the coming days."

Coral Davenport of the Times reports that the announcement could come as soon as today or early next week.

EPA spokesman Robert Daguillard would say only that the rule will be published this spring. As of today, that gives EPA (and its less-visible partner in the effort, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) another month.

The rule has been under review at the Office of Management and Budget since April.

Meanwhile, Capitol Hill lawmakers have been moving to block the rule's implementation or, at the least, substantially change it. A Senate hearing was held Tuesday on S. 1140, which attempts to define the limits of federal jurisdiction. The House of Representatives, meanwhile, has already passed a bill requiring EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw their proposal.

The Senate bill has 30 co-sponsors. The House bill cleared the chamber with a 261-155 vote -- 29 votes shy of the number needed to override a presidential veto. For those in need of a civics lesson, that number is two-thirds of each chamber: 290 in the House, 67 in the Senate.

The Times article contained a curious word choice, reporting that "the rule will also limit pollution in groundwater and other sources of drinking water. Polluted groundwater is now chemically treated before being used as drinking water."

While the rule may very well result in a reduction of pollutants seeping into groundwater, it will not set any limits on the amount of chemicals of any kind in groundwater.

Said Daguillard: "The Clean Water Rule (and Clean Water Act) do not regulate groundwater."

Docket for the rule



Lineup set for Feb. 4 WOTUS hearing on Capitol Hill

 Clean Water Act, Congress, Corps, EPA, Wetlands  Comments Off on Lineup set for Feb. 4 WOTUS hearing on Capitol Hill
Feb 032015


Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), T&I chairman

The lineup is set for the hearing tomorrow on the EPA/Corps proposed rule to define "waters of the United States" under the Clean Water Act. The hearing is being held jointly by the Full Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

Witnesses representing state attorneys general, state departments of agriculture and counties will be in D.C.

There are unlikely to be any surprises, as the views of the panelists are already well known. Below, we've included links to comments they have made on the proposal that are contained in the docket. Since both committees are in Republican hands, the first three panelists chosen to speak after EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Army Corps of Engineers Assistant Secretary Jo-Ellen Darcy are strongly or moderately opposed to the proposal as written; the final two are in favor of it.


The event will be an opportunity, however, for congressional representatives to express their opposition to -- or support of -- the proposal. With 59 T&I members (more than 13 percent of the entire House of Representatives) and 20 EPW members, that means the lawmakers' opening statements could last till well past lunch. (Addendum: They didn't. The top four officials gave opening statements, then allowed McCarthy and Darcy to speak, then moved to statements and questions from the assembled committee members.)

House Transportation & Infrastructure page (hearing will be live-streamed)

Summary of subject matter from committees

WOTUS docket (more than 1 million comments received, but many are form letters or postcards)

Witness List:

Panel I

  • The Honorable Gina McCarthy, Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency |  Written Testimony
  • The Honorable Jo-Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary of the Army, for Civil Works |   Written Testimony

Panel II

  • E. Scott Pruitt, Attorney General, State of Oklahoma | | Written Testimony | Comment from Attorneys General Of West Virginia, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, North Dakota, South Carolina, and South Dakota and the Governors of Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, and South Carolina) (Proposed rule "impermissibly seeks to broaden federal authority under the Clean Water Act and which we believe will impose unnecessary barriers to advancing water quality initiatives nationwide.")
  • Adam H. Putnam, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services; on behalf of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture Written Testimony (Comment from docket: "The proposed rule is ill-conceived and exceeds the legal and statutory boundaries of the CWA. Rather than clarify the intent of Congress and the Supreme Court, the proposed rule would add complexity and uncertainty, disrupt the timely use of FIFRA-registered pesticide products, and cause significant adverse economic impacts to state departments of agriculture and other agencies.")
  • Sallie Clark, Commissioner, District 3, El Paso County, CO; on behalf of the National Association of Counties Written Testimony (Comment from Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments -- many changes needed; comment from NACO)
  • Timothy Mauck, Commissioner, District 1, Clear Creek County, CO Written Testimony  (Comment from Colorado state and local lawmakers, in support of proposal)
  • Lemuel M. Srolovic, Bureau Chief, Environmental Protection Bureau, Office of New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman  Written Testimony   (Comment, on behalf of 7 state attorneys general and D.C.'s AG, in support of proposal. States are New York, Delaware, Maryland, Connecticut, Illinois, Rhode Island, Washington)