Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Clean Water Rule Takes Effect, but Not in Missouri (Print Only)

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Clean Water Rule Takes Effect, but Not in Missouri (Print Only)

Article excerpt

A new federal rule meant to protect tributaries and wetlands won't be implemented in Missouri and 12 other states that filed lawsuits challenging the new regulations.

Yet the Environmental Protection Agency says it is going forward with the rule despite a federal court ruling Thursday in North Dakata that blocked the measure in some central and Western states that had filed suit.

The EPA says the rule, which took effect Friday in 37 states, will safeguard drinking water for millions of Americans by protecting smaller bodies of water that ultimately flow into larger waterways. The EPA co-wrote the rule with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. But some lawmakers from both parties and several state attorneys general, including Missouri Democrat Chris Koster, have blasted the rule as federal overreach. Koster sued to block the rule in June, joining the other 12 states.

"In issuing the preliminary injunction the federal court sent an unmistakable message to the EPA: You have gone too far," Koster, who is running for Missouri Governor, said in a statement Thursday evening. "Missouri's land and water resources should be regulated by officials accountable to the people of the state, not by arbitrary standards dictated from Washington D.C."

Agricultural interests have been some of the most outspoken opponents of the new rules, arguing they would impose unnecessary burdens on farmers and ranchers by requiring permits and protections for small bodies of water such as drainage ditches.

The EPA counters that the rule merely clarifies which smaller waterways fall under federal protection after two Supreme Court rulings left the reach of the Clean Water Act uncertain. Those decisions in 2001 and 2006 left 60 percent of the nation's streams and millions of acres of wetlands without clear federal protection, according to EPA, causing confusion for landowners and government officials.

The new rule would force a permitting process only if a business or landowner took steps that would pollute or destroy the affected waters those with a "direct and significant" connection to larger bodies of water downstream that are already protected. …

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