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Clean Water Rule Repeal

As of today, the House is on recess until September 5th; The Senate is expected to start their recess on August 7 and return on September 5th. So, time to get creative. Also, time to look at issues other than health care for a change.

First up: The EPA is moving forward with a Clean Water Act repeal. Because 'clean water' is very controversial.

WHAT IS IT?

The bipartisan Clean Water Act (CWA) of 1972 stated there would be no discharge of pollutants from a point source (a pipe or ditch) into navigable waters without a permit, and provided government funding to construct new systems of waste disposal. And in this capacity, the law has been successful.

This landmark law, however, largely exempted runoff from agricultural fields and irrigation ditches. As a result, pesticides, manure, and other pollutants have flowed into streams, rivers, and eventually lakes and bays. 

Enter, the Clean Water Rule of 2015. The Clean Water Rule, which was first proposed in 2014, sought to clarify the legal jurisdiction of the federal government under the Clean Water Act. In doing so, it expanded protection for two million miles of streams and 20 million acres of wetlands.

One of the main problems the rule is designed to address is the runoff of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilized farm fields. High nutrient levels in downstream waters can impact drinking water, and they can also lead to spikes in algae growth that produce low-oxygen “dead zones.” The law is currently stayed nationwide (aka, has a hold on it). 

    WHAT'S THE OTHER SIDE?

    Those in support of this repeal say the 2015 protection is too costly. Some landowner and agricultural groups have lambasted it as an overreaching infringement of private property rights and an onerous burden on farmers and ranchers (in spite of the fact that the rule does not change agricultural exemptions, nor does it regulate farm ponds, puddles, groundwater, erosional features, or most ditches). And then there's climate deniers. 

    The 2015 rule was widely criticized by industry — including fossil fuel producers, manufacturers, and agribusiness — as well as by Republican lawmakers, who called the rule an example of overreach by a federal agency.

    President Trump signed an executive order in February, directing the EPA, which issued the original rule in conjunction with the Army Corps of Engineers, to “review and reconsider” the rule, paying special attention to the definition of “navigable waters.” (from ThinkProgress).

    ACTIONS

    The 30 day public comment period is now open. Submit your comments here, and spread the word on social media.

    READ MORE | There are some interesting articles out there on this issue. Being from New Mexico, I strongly urge you to give them a read. Water is sacred, and it is all too easy to take it for granted.

    Summer Hiatus

    plot twist: chris christie wins the day!