Controversy Continues Over EPA Waters Rule

The controversy continues around the EPA’s new authority involving new provisions of the Clean Water Act. We brought you the farmers’ side of the issue in a story last week. This week we wanted to get the environmentalists’ point of view.

Supporters say the EPA’s new “Waters of the U.S.” rule will help protect the Gulf Coast’s sensitive biosystem from problems posed by runoff.

But Representative Bradley Byrne (R) has voiced opposition, saying local farmers will be adversely affected. “It’s clearly a power grab. They want to control everything. They want to control a body of water standing in your front yard. A body of water standing in a field.”

Environmental groups tell news 5 that the new Waters of the U.S. rule is about protecting sensitive wetlands rather than affecting farmers.

Casi Calloway with Mobile Baykeeper said, “I think that’s kind of where we are in this country. You’ve got local communities, people who hate the federal government and they hate being regulated they see this as a bigger, more regulation. The way we see it is this helps define things for us better for us so that we know how to better get and maintain clean water.”

News 5 asked Mobile Baykeeper about the farmers who have voiced concern that they would have to get permits from the EPA in order to do their job. Calloway responded, “We support farmers. We support farming. It’s where we get our food, it’s a major chunk of our economy here in coastal Alabama. But what this rule does not impact as far as we can see in any way, shape or form is local folks.”

In any case, the new Waters of the U.S. rule is sure to make neither side of the issue happy. One side supports more regulation; the other says they’re already regulated to death.

The rule is now in effect in Alabama, but 13 states have managed to get the new rules temporarily stopped in federal court. Some legal analysts say the issue could ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court.

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