The new „Waters of the United States” rule comes to complete the Clean Water Act under the Obama administration.
Developed and issued by the Environmental Protection Agency with the United States Army Corps of Engineers the new regulation seeks to protect wetlands, streams and rivers that are part of larger connections are prove vital to the United States economy and the health of citizens.
All these new additions, left somewhat in limbo by the Supreme Court rulings of 2001 and 2006, will now be under the supervision of the federal authorities.
The Obama administration is set on leaving an environmental legacy that will undoubtedly protect generations to come, albeit stark opposition from Republican-steered Congress.
As is usually the case, disregarding the benefits of the „Waters of the United States” regulation, both houses launched an aggressive campaign of diminishing the efforts of the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The measure has been called yet another clear example of overreach by the Obama administration.
The staunchest opposition comes from business groups, farmers, and builders who fear that any small project such as building a protection dam or digging one ditch requires federal approval. And that makes things just so much harder. These groups are abated at the thought that the government would be looking over their shoulder permanently.
The new regulation does indeed apply to an approximately 60 percent of the water bodies in the United States. Previously, they were left unprotected, as a murky situation ensued after Supreme Court rulings. Now, all the new regulation does is protecting these waters from pollutant infiltration under any circumstance or algal blooms.
And it is not a piece of hot news for the Republican Congress. The regulation was already proposed and discussed since last spring. With over 400 meetings on the matters and 1 million public comments, the body of the regulation finally took shape.
Yet, stubborn opposition is here to stay. The House already passed a bill that aims at blocking the “Waters of the United States”, with the Senate preparing for a similar move. The President of the United States threatened with a veto if that happens.
White House adviser Brian Deese commented for the press:
“The only people with reason to oppose the rule are polluters who knowingly threaten our clean water”.
As it stands, the language of the regulation should be understood along the lines of no federal oversight is needed for those projects that are targeting small streams that flow intermittently. Also, wetlands that are fully disconnected are not overseen by federal authorities.
Yet, business groups keep clamoring and threatened with lawsuits that will challenge the regulation before the Supreme Court, bringing the situation back to point zero.
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