Environmental Protection Agency

The EPA Wants to Get Out of Puddles and Ditches. Environmental Activists Are Outraged.

A welcome new federal approach under the Clean Water Act.

|

EPALogo
EPA

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is issuing a new proposed rule that refines the definition of the waters of the United States (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act. The Clean Water Act instructs the EPA to "prepare or develop comprehensive programs for preventing, reducing, or eliminating the pollution of the navigable waters." Under the rules promulgated toward the end of the Obama administration, the EPA issued a regulation that basically defined "navigable waters" as pretty much any water at all, including nearly every river, lake, creek, estuary, pond, swamp, prairie pothole, irrigation ditch, and intermittent rivulet in the country.

In his 2017 congressional testimony, Arizona rancher Jim Chilton was concerned that a culvert he installed across a dry wash with 12 inches wide of sand in its bottom would violate the Obama administration's new expansive WOTUS regulations. He pointed out that his culvert was 270 miles away from the nearest navigable body of water, the Colorado River.

The Obama era regulation provoked a spate of lawsuits from various states and private organizations opposing it. In 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit issued a stay against the enforcement of the new regulation. In February 2017, President Trump ordered the EPA to revisit the WOTUS regulations and make them conform with the plurality opinion of Justice Antonin Scalia in Rapanos v. United States (2006). In that ruling, Scalia argued that the definitional term "waters of the United States" can only refer to "relatively permanent, standing or flowing bodies of water," not "occasional," "intermittent," or "ephemeral" flows. Furthermore, a mere "hydrological connection" is not sufficient to qualify a wetland as covered by the Clean Water Act; it must have a "continuous surface connection" with a "water of the United States" that makes it "difficult to determine where the 'water' ends and the 'wetland' begins." Trump's executive order held enforcement of the WOTUS rules in abeyance until the EPA could issue new rules.

In August 2018, a U.S. district court judge issued an injunction against the Trump administration's delay in implementing the Obama era WOTUS rules. As a result, the Obama rules went into effect in the 26 states where other courts had not issued stays blocking the rule.

The EPA is now issuing proposed WOTUS rules that would more narrowly define what counts as waters that can be regulated by that agency and by the Army Corps of Engineers. Under the proposed new rules, bodies of water on which boats typically float are still subject to federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act, as are rivers and streams that contribute perennial or intermittent flow to downstream traditional navigable waters in a typical year. Excluded under the new rules would be ephemeral streams (defined as having water in them only immediately after it rains) and most ditches, along with lakes, ponds, and wetlands that do not abut or do not have a direct hydrological connection to jurisdictional waters.

Opponents of the Obama era rules are hailing the EPA's latest proposal. "This new rule will empower farmers and ranchers to comply with the law, protect our water resources and productively work their land without having to hire an army of lawyers and consultants," said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall in a statement.

Environmental activists are of course outraged. "This latest attack on our water is a new low for Trump and [Acting EPA Aministrator Wheeler as they again unabashedly side with corporate polluters instead of our families," declared Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. "Not only will this rollback endanger the drinking water sources for millions of people, but it also jeopardizes wildlife habitat, outdoor recreation, and economies that rely on safe, clean water."

Nearly 50 years after the Clean Water Act was passed, about 53 percent of assessed rivers and streams are impaired as are 71 percent of the assessed acres of lakes, ponds, and reservoirs. And this is after more than $1 trillion has been spent by municipalities to improve wastewater treatment plants. Focusing on ephemeral streams and unconnected ponds does not seem to be an effective way to address America's ongoing water pollution problem.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

76 responses to “The EPA Wants to Get Out of Puddles and Ditches. Environmental Activists Are Outraged.

  1. http://www.masslive.com/news/b…..law_p.html

    A federal judge struck down the Massachusetts law making it illegal to secretly record government officials. This is a very big deal. Funny reason hasn’t seem to have noticed it.

    1. Too local.

      1. Yeah, it is not like reason doesn’t cover local police stories.

    2. Heavens to Betsy! A story not covered by Reason — I am flabbergasted. I had no idea there were more stories in the US alone than the dozen a day carried by Reason — who knew there was so much news in one country!

      1. Reason has heavily covered the issue of taping government officials. This is the first time a court has overturned such a law on 1st Amendment grounds. That is a big deal and part of a story reason has extensively covered.

        Are you just really stupid? Do you just not understand that some things are more relevent and important than others?

        1. He’s a troll and his script only allows limited commenting.

          1. Look! It’s the Bobbsey twins!

          2. Poor troll. He tried to make his handle so long nobody would bother.

            He was right. Nobody bothers with the troll.

    3. Hmm. They’ve covered either this case or a very similar one in the past. Seems worthy of a blog post. I’ll give them a few days. After that I’m cancelling my subscription!

  2. Focusing on ephemeral streams and unconnected ponds does not seem to be an effective way to address America’s ongoing water pollution problem.

    Someone wants to put the Sierra Club out of business.

  3. Another positive for Trump and his presidency.

  4. “This latest attack on our water is a new low for Trump and [Acting EPA Aministrator Wheeler as they again unabashedly side with corporate polluters instead of our families,” declared Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club.”

    Attack on our water?

    Chill out, Mike.

    This is why Debbie turned you down at the dance. You’re too intense.

  5. >>>attack on our water

    like w/extra hydrogen?

    1. Deuterium. It’s a plot to make us fail weight standards.

  6. http://pjmedia.com/homeland-se…..n-the-run/

    Fatal shooting at a Christmas Market in France. Must be those God damned Methodists again.

    1. Macron has to crack down on people who report on this. Round up all French Christians who dare speak out.

      1. That Christmas Market shouldn’t have been wearing that short skirt. Everyone there was just asking for it.

        1. Unpossible. The French have stringent laws to prevent criminals from committing crimes with guns. It only happens here.

          1. He must have smuggled the gun in from the US.

    2. Two!! Two stories not covered by Reason!

      Wholly mackerel!

      Actually three, because the third story is that Reason didn’t cover the two stories.

      1. No one expects reason to cover this. It just happened and reason doesn’t cover stories that reflect poorly on Muslims. Everyone knows that.

        Again, are you just stupid or did you get dropped on your head or take a lot of drugs or something and become that way?

        1. Its a defensive Reason troll.

          Speak ill of Reason and asshole abc abcde abcdef is activated.

      2. You’ll soon come to learn that finding a story on the internet that Reason didn’t link to or write about is a sure-fire way to know for certain that Reason is a liberal and/or conservative rag depending on who finds the story and what the subject is about. It’s even better when you can post it immediately after the fact, because Reason should really respond to news as quickly as Reuters or AP given the size of its staff of writers is so similar.

        1. No one outside of the voices in this guy’s head is slaming on reason for not covering this. It just happened for God’s sake. The video ruling is a big deal and I find it very odd that reason isn’t talking about it. But not this.

          1. However, this does prove that John lives to comment. Any post without a John comment, that’ll get his attention.

            1. You seem to enjoy my attention a lot. You should just thank me for indulging you.

              1. It looks like he’s a defensive troll for Reason. If you criticize Reason, his script kicks in.

                1. Too bad his handler couldn’t be arsed to come up with a real handle.

                  Maybe the guy who runs the hihnswarm should offer some help?

                  1. sarcasmic approves.

        2. There was a fatal shooting at a church in Brazil, where guns, ammo, bows, arrows, nunchaku and bb guns are all as verboten as abortion and plant leaves. Here’s a video, 4 dead, some more wounded. The shooter is at the left-hand side of the screen when he opens fire, but did have the decency to shoot himself afterward. http://tinyurl.com/y9v5ntyp

  7. WOTUS? First we had POTUS, then SCOTUS, then FLOTUS. I recently saw the Constitution referred to as COTUS. Does everything really need to have an acronym with -OTUS at the end?

    1. No it doesn’t and shouldn’t. That is one of the dumbest and most annoying trends in writing. It is just stupid and lazy.

      1. Nice.

        No matter how they portray you in the movies, you’re not all bad, Dillinger.

      2. Does the POTUS FLOTUS in the WOTUS?

        1. He COTUS if he wanted to.

          1. The SCOTUS should really be the judge of that.

            1. The POTUS would agree with yuge.

    2. Otus Redding objects to your racist exclusion of OTUS! You probably hate gays, lesbians, bisexuals, trans-sexuals, metrosexual, and try-sexuals too. Shitlord!

  8. http://pjmedia.com/homeland-se…..n-the-run/

    Teacher fired for refusing to use transgender pronoun. Remember, there is nothing Orwellian about transgenderism.

    1. Wrong link.

        1. Now I am confused. Is this now three and a half stories not covered by Reason, or just three?

          1. I thought they covered the recording cops story. I might have read it somewhere else though.

        2. “I can’t think of a worse way to treat a child than what was happening,” said West Point High Principal Jonathan Hochman

          Well, principle, you really don’t have much of an imagination, do you? I can think of about a million worse ways to treat a child.

          1. Like sending the child to West Point High….

    2. is that the one where the teacher called it by it’s given name? classic.

    3. Is this the only thing the teachers’ union won’t fight?

      1. Appearently so. You can beat kids, hit on them, be a completely incompetent teacher, never show up to work, but damn it you better call them by their preferred pronoun.

        I think this whole public school experiement has gone on long enough.

        1. Just wait until the kids figure out they can just name their gender ‘fuckboi’ and insists the teacher refer to them as that. I see a short life for that point of view.

          1. Some male high school student should tell his female teachers that his prefered pronoun is “I am your worthless slut slave master”.

    4. This is obviously disturbing and ridiculous, but…

      Vlaming told superiors that his Christian faith prevented him from using male pronouns for the student.

      …I’m curious about which part in the Bible deals with gender pronouns.

      1. I think the prohibition on lying would cover it.

        1. That’s a bit of a stretch, I think. Unless he’s forced to state that the student is actually, literally a biological male. If I start referring to you as “Bill” instead of “John”, I don’t think I’m lying. Just weirdly using the wrong label. But it doesn’t matter what I think. He gets to decide what his religious beliefs are.

          1. There is no specific biblical issue, but it heavily depends on what sex their gender likes to fuck. I haven’t met a ‘woman’ with a dick yet that isn’t also gay I.E. they are basically a gay man who wears a dress.

            1. And the funny thing about a relationship like that is that the gay male partner can’t really believe that the transgender one is a woman, or he’d have to stop identifying as gay. But I guess you are going to have a hard time finding a partner not firmly on the “queer” side of things. Must be difficult. As long as they aren’t annoying activists, I have nothing but sympathy for people like that.

    5. Two and a half, you can do better.

      Two and a half stories not covered by Reason. What is the world coming to.

      1. Calm down and take some of those pills your doctor gave you.

        1. Better yet, remain hysterical and take all of them.

  9. Environmental activists are of course outraged. “This latest attack on our water is a new low for Trump and [Acting EPA Aministrator Wheeler as they again unabashedly side with corporate polluters instead of our families,” declared Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club.

    “Our” water. “Our” Intellectual Property. “Our” borders.

    All sorts of authoritarian assholes share the same penchant for homesteading over property that does not belong to them, like it was Gawd or someone worse who gave them stewardship over the rest of humankind and their things, thereby justifying all manners of terrible and restrictive government policies imagined. They can all go f?ck themselves. All of them.

  10. I don’t care about their rules anymore, it’s just the King being a little more lax about murdering your family over a few poached deer. You never know what the King’s son will do after they become King, so there’s no guarantee’s for tomorrow for you or yours.

    1. Pretty much. If congress doesn’t do something to tighten up definitions and rules like this, it’s just the whim of the current executive. And if it starts just swinging back and forth each time administrations change, that’s not very good either.

      1. Precisely, and that is the disease infecting American politics. When government becomes central in society, expect people to try and use it as a boot that keeps changing necks. Of course, inevitably the boot is on all necks and this is the ‘equality’ of Progressivism.

  11. http://www.firstthings.com/art…..hame-storm

    this is a bizzare story. The author is painfully dull and it is hard to get through the entire story without your eyes glazing over. But to make a long story short, she was on some “young conservative” panel that was broadcast on CSPAN in 2010 and also on the panel was an ex boyfriend who went on a four minute tirade against her explaining why she was a sociopath and wanted people to suffer. This appearently resulted in all sorts of shame and attacks from strangers causing her to get married and move to Austrailia.

    What makes the story interesting is that he moderator of the panel was Jonah Goldberg. Goldberg appearently sat there and did nothing while one of the panelist of the panel that he was moderating and whose purpose was to hawk his book went on a four minuate personal tirade against another panelist that was bad enough to go viral.

    Way to go Jonah. Way to show real moral courage and rise up to a situation. What a fucking cowardly dirt ball. As soon as it became obvious that the guy was her ex boyfriend and whatever his grudge was it had nothing to do with the subject of the panel, how do you not step in and put a stop to it? Was he just getting off on watching the trainwreck?

    1. I tried. My eyes glazed over.

      1. It is a tough chew. She really doesn’t seem to have a point other than to humble brag about moving to Austrailia with her husband. But, the tidbit about Goldberg is mildly interesting. He is appearently exactly the kind of moral coward you woudl think he is.

      2. John’s comments will do that.

        1. Tonys comments has caused gay men to kill themselves.

          Its Tonys burden to bear.

  12. Patronizing and minimalizing articles do not make for very good arguments. Widespread environmental degradation does have its own cure – pity it just isn’t more fast acting, nor usually localized in the places those doing the polluting live.

  13. “This new rule will empower farmers and ranchers to comply with the law.”

    Making murder legal would help murderers comply with the law, too.

  14. Ending FDRs mandate one law at a time.

  15. Can anyone name 3 things–other than the $45000 antistraw sea turtle sculpture–that econazis are NOT outraged about?

  16. The Obama clean water rule would have applied clean water law to roadside ditches and even to puddles far from navigable waters. The obvious problem here is that such bodies dry up, do not support fish.
    One of the problems with the % waters impaired is that in Calif if a single stretch of any stream is impaired, the entire watershed (and all miles of streams) are labeled impaired. This boosts the numbers a lot.

  17. I essentially started three weeks past and that i makes $385 benefit $135 to $a hundred and fifty consistently simply by working at the internet from domestic. I made ina long term! “a great deal obliged to you for giving American explicit this remarkable opportunity to earn more money from domestic. This in addition coins has adjusted my lifestyles in such quite a few manners by which, supply you!”. go to this website online domestic media tech tab for extra element thank you .

    http://www.Mesalary.com

  18. I essentially started three weeks past and that i makes $385 benefit $135 to $a hundred and fifty consistently simply by working at the internet from domestic. I made ina long term! “a great deal obliged to you for giving American explicit this remarkable opportunity to earn more money from domestic. This in addition coins has adjusted my lifestyles in such quite a few manners by which, supply you!”. go to this website online domestic media tech tab for extra element thank you .

    http://www.Mesalary.com

  19. essentially started three weeks past and that i makes $385 benefit $135 to $a hundred and fifty consistently simply by working at the internet from domestic. I made ina long term! “a great deal obliged to you for giving American explicit this remarkable opportunity to earn more money from domestic. This in addition coins has adjusted my lifestyles in such quite a few manners by which, supply you!”. go to this website online domestic media tech tab for extra element thank you .

    http://www.Mesalary.com

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.