Water Wars: EPA Rule Front and Center

Water Wars: EPA Rule Front and Center

EPA’s Waters of the United States rule on the regulation of water pollution is creating polarity—and some unlikely allies.
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Green Builder Media CEO, Sara Gutterman

Green Builder Media

Thursday, May 28, 2015 - 9:00am

CAMPAIGN: Ethical and Sustainable Living


For decades, farmers, businesses, developers, environmental groups, and elected officials have been confused by the scope of federal jurisdiction over the types of water bodies protected by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Clean Water Act, which ensures the safety of drinking water.   To clarify its authority over water pollution control, the EPA proposed a controversial and widely criticized rule last year that would prevent the pollution of streams, tributaries, and wetlands that feed water sources.

Not surprisingly, the announcement created a maelstrom, with the farmers, ranchers, developers, utilities, miners, and others (generally in industries that use large swaths of land) demanding that the EPA revamp or completely withdraw the proposal.

An emotional, dogmatic, and, at times, nasty battle ensued to capture public opinion, with the all-too-familiar heart-tugging taglines (“Clean water is important to me, I want to protect it for my health, my family, and my community”), slur campaigns (“Ditch the Rule”), and negative advertisements (“EPA seeks to destroy property rights, stop the power grab.”)

Critics claimed that the proposed rule represented a massive overreach in the EPA’s dominion. According to these opponents, the new rule would allow the agency to regulate puddles, dry creek beds, ditches and ponds (particularly those on farms that don’t reach navigable water or wells), and other areas that don’t need federal regulation, resulting in an unnecessary labyrinth of bureaucracy and an inefficient pile of paperwork. All of this, they asserted, would inevitably slow down progress.


CATEGORY: Environment