Oppose EPA and Corps' Rapanos-Carabell Guidance
This document puts the protection of our nation's waters in greater jeopardy and makes it more urgent than ever for Congress to pass the Clean Water Restoration Act, which will reaffirm Clean Water Act protections for all of our nation's waters.
"This document is guidance in name only. In effect, the EPA and the Corps are taking their field staff and the public out to the woods, blindfolding them, spinning them in circles, telling them to 'go west,' and calling that guidance," said Jon Devine, a senior attorney in the Clean Water Project at NRDC. "This move only underscores the need for Congress to pass the bipartisan Clean Water Restoration Act to restore protections for the nation's water bodies."
"This guidance places an unacceptable number of waters at risk of losing protection and does next to nothing to alleviate the confusion over what waters are federally protected," says Jan Goldman-Carter, Wetlands Counsel for the National Wildlife Federation. "Like the Supreme Court decision in Rapanos, the guidance leaves protection of many of our waters in doubt. It doesn't fix a thing and makes the status of protections even worse for streams and wetlands."
"This guidance will most certainly mean that there will be more unregulated pollution and filling of these important waters, leaving many communities to suffer the consequences," said Navis Bermudez, Sierra Club's Clean Water Campaign Washington Representative. "In addition, scarce agency resources will be wasted implementing this confusing guidance."
According to EPA the guidance was released to Corps of Engineers and EPA field offices to ensure "nationwide predictability, reliability, and consistency in identifying wetlands, streams and rivers subject to the Clean Water Act (CWA)."
But instead of clearing up the jurisdictional issues created by the Rapanos decision, the new guidance does exactly the opposite. For most cases, it sets up a complicated case-by-case process that agency staff must use when trying to determine about whether a water is protected under the federal Clean Water Act. The new process also creates a huge burden on already overwhelmed agency staff and resources and a greater likelihood of inconsistent application of determining jurisdiction.
The so-called "guidance" issued is flawed on several key points, according to NRDC's analysis:
- The "guidance" will effectively eliminate protections for some streams, even though the Supreme Court has not struck down existing agency regulations that protect tributaries.
- The "guidance" leaves important questions unanswered about whether and when waters can be protected, relying largely on case-by-case determinations, virtually guaranteeing further litigation, administrative delays, and confusion amongst regulated industries and the public.
- The "guidance" is divorced from the real world -- that is, there is little or no analysis of what water resources will be lost as a consequence of its implementation, and what the resulting effect on water quality around the country will be.
The guidance and supporting documents are available at: http://www.epa.gov/owow/wetlands/guidance/CWAwaters.html
The Clean Water Network strongly opposes both the Rapanos-Carabell Supreme Court decision and the EPA and Army Corps' guidance issued as a result of the decision. The Clean Water Network feels the guidance adds confusion to the issue of portecting America's waters and reduces protection for many streams and wetlands across the country.