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Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection Act of 2014 Headed for Senate Vote

USEPA Updates Final Rule for Construction and Development Effluent Guidelines and Standards



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USEPA and USACE Propose Rule to Clarify Clean Water Act

Clean Water ActThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) worked together on a newly proposed rule to clarify stream and wetland protection under the Clean Water Act. According to a study by the Environmental Law Institute, 36 states have legal limitations on their ability to fully protect waters that aren’t covered by the Federal law. The proposed rule aims to increase efficiency in determining coverage of the Clean Water Act.

USEPA and USACE launched a 90-day outreach effort that will include holding discussions and gathering input around the country to shape the final rule. The comment period ends on July 21, 2014.

The proposed rule does not protect any new types of waters that have not historically been covered under the Clean Water Act, and the proposal is consistent with the Supreme Court’s more narrow reading of Clean Water Act jurisdiction. “We are clarifying protection for the upstream waters that are absolutely vital to downstream communities,” said USEPA Administrator Gina McCarthy in a news release.

The proposed rule clarifies that under the Clean Water Act most seasonal and rain-dependent streams are protected, as are wetlands near rivers and streams. Other types of waters that may have more uncertain connections with downstream water and protection will be evaluated through a case specific analysis of whether the connection is significant or not.

The exemptions and exclusions for agriculture in the Clean Water Act remain in the proposed rule. In addition, USEPA and USACE have coordinated with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop an interpretive rule to ensure that 53 specific conservation practices that protect or improve water quality will not be subject to Section 404 permitting requirements. The agencies will work together to implement these new exemptions as well as periodically review and update USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service conservation practice standards and activities that would qualify under the exemption. Any agriculture activity that does not result in the discharge of a pollutant to waters of the U.S. still does not require a permit. The interpretive rule for agricultural activities is effective immediately.

To read the full Definition of Waters of the United States Under the Clean Water Act proposed rule, click here.


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