CHARLESTON – West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is hailing a proposed change to the EPA’s Waters of the United States rule.
Morrisey was on hand Dec. 11 when acting U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced the proposal from the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that they say will help boost economic growth and protect the naton’s waters.
“I join farmers, land owners and countless others in praising EPA’s commitment to seeking to permanently replace the Obama-era rule with a more sensible and lawful approach to regulation,” Morrisey said. “Our office will closely review EPA’s proposal to ensure our nation maintains high water quality, while minimizing the regulatory impact on farmers, job creators and land owners across West Virginia.”
Wheeler said landowners will have a better grasp of when a federal permit is required for a project.
“Our proposal would replace the Obama EPA’s 2015 definition with one that respects the limits of the Clean Water Act and provides states and landowners the certainty they need to manage their natural resources and grow local economies,” Wheeler said.
Morrisey has fought against the rule since the EPA issued it in 2015 when Barack Obama was president. In October 2015, Morrisey won a stay that blocked enforcement of the rule.
As it was written, the WOTUS rule would have given federal agencies more control over natural resources, including almost every body of water.
Under the new proposed rule, federal protections would stay in place for major waterways, rivers, tributaries, wetlands adjacent to federally protected waterways, certain lakes and ponds, reservoirs and ditches used for navigation or affected by the tide.
States would have authority over most ditches, terrain that fills with water during or in response to rainfall, certain wetlands that have been used to grow crops and stormwater control ponds as well as water and wastewater treatment systems. Additionally, groundwater would not be federally protected, something Wheeler said was never meant to be included.