Eight State Coalition Backs Broad Protection of Waters Under the U.S. Federal Clean Water Act

On 16 September 2014, New York Attorney General Schneiderman, along with the attorneys general for Connecticut, Deleware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Maryland, Rhode Island and Washington State, submitted comments in support of the proposed rule issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) redefining the scope of the “waters of the United States” protected under the Clean Water Act.

The proposed rule would establish clear categories of waterbodies that fall within the protection of the Act by defining “waters of the United States” to include tributaries and adjacent waters, such as wetlands, along with traditional navigable waters, interstate waters, and the territorial seas. The proposed definition would clarify which waters fall under the protection of the Act after several court cases have caused confusion among the states.

The attorneys general provide three reasons for supporting the proposed rule:

  1. The proposed rule is grounded in peer-reviewed scientific studies that confirm fundamental hydrologic principles
  2. The proposed rule advances the statute’s protection of state waters downstream of other states by securing a “floor” for water pollution control
  3. The proposed rule would promote predictability and consistency in the application of the law

If the EPA’s proposed rule clarifying the scope of “waters of the United States” is adopted, companies may see increased regulation of their wastewater discharges as more water bodies fall under the protection of the Clean Water Act.

 

– Jill Bernstein, EHS Regulatory Consultant at Enhesa

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