On Thursday, August 27, a federal judge placed a temporary injunction against the EPA’s Clean Water Rule. The Rule was set to go into effect the next day. Also known as a revision to the “Waters of the United States” or “WOTUS”, the Rule would have given the EPA power to regulate any body of water that could flow into navigable waters. This is quite a stretch on Congress’ initial intent of giving the federal government control of “navigable” waters.
Farmers, ranchers, businesses, and even everyday citizens are at risk under this proposal, which could extend the EPA’s reach over something as simple as a puddle of water from a rainy day near a pond or river.
In light of the ruling, the EPA has said that it is only honoring the judge’s decision in those states that requested the injunction. That means so far, only Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming will get relief.
Representative Lamar Smith (R-Texas), the Chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, has brought attention to the irony of an Agency like the EPA trying to vastly expand its regulation of water in the country when it just contaminated a waterway of three separate states with millions of gallons of toxic chemicals. The pollution of the Animas River at the Gold King Mine in Colorado has raised serious questions over the legitimacy of the EPA trying to expand its control over water cleanliness and safety.
A joint oversight hearing will take place September 17 with the Natural Resources Committee and the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The hearing will focus on the Gold King Mine disaster by the EPA. One can hope that the EPA has plans in place to prevent this from ever happening again.