The Obama Administration has issued a rule on Wednesday that is aimed to increase the protection conveyed towards American waterways. This rule was a joint effort conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and it describes clearly which waterways need to be under federal protection, so as to decrease the pollution of American drinking water.
It was a memorable day for all environmentalists out there, as this rule represents an immense triumph in their ongoing fight with the corporations that continue to pollute American water with their waste. In spite of the fact that it only represents a clarification of the list of waterways that need to be protected, the measure was met with significant reluctance.
“We’re finalizing a clean water rule to protect the streams and the wetlands that one in three Americans rely on for drinking water.” said Gina McCarthy, the head of EPA.
Furthermore, she explained that this rule would not generate changes in the permitting requirements, and that all the existing exemptions and exclusions still stand. In fact, the clear water rule would most likely create new exclusions for waterways, in accordance with peer-reviewed scientific evidence, that has the authority to prioritize the most important waterlines that require protection.
McCarthy made it clear that this rule would “not interfere with private property rights or address land use”. There are limits to it, as it does not intend to intervene in irrigation or water transfer policies and as it does not apply to shallow surface water and groundwater.
EPA has pointed out that up to 117 million Americans who currently depend on water from streams as a source of drinking water would greatly benefit from the clarifications made by the clean water rule.
This measure is highly opposed by Congress, as its Republican majority believes that it would give way to federal tyranny over the legal rights over certain small water structures, such as ditches, ponds and streams, despite Gina McCarthy’s clarification on the matter.
The House has actually decided to block this measure at the beginning of the month, and it is most likely that the Senate will continue on this same path. Also, the Supreme Court has issued two rulings that greatly affect the outcome of the Clean Water Act.
EPA has explained that this new rule is meant to come into effect only when valuable water structures that constitute drinking water sources or tributaries for these, find themselves in the peril of being polluted by landowners or local businesses.
The fate of EPA’s Clean Water Act remains to be determined in the near future. With President Obama’s support, it will hopefully manage to make its way through the all red tape, so that it may convey more specialized protection for all the drinking water sources, that so many Americans depend on.
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