AG Suthers opposes EPA “Waters of the US” clarification

October 23, 2014


From The Durango Herald (Peter Marcus):

“Contrary to their claims, the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers’ proposed revisions to the definition of ‘Waters of the United States’ poses a significant threat to state sovereignty and an economic threat to businesses and local governments in Colorado,” Suthers said. “I join with the multitudes of other interested parties in asking the federal government to abandon this proposed rule.”

The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a rule that would clarify regulatory authority over streams and wetlands. Two U.S. Supreme Court decisions have clouded the agency’s regulatory powers, and so environmental officials are seeking to secure their authority.

The joint rule-making with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers comes as polluters have escaped fines for violations because the EPA has been uncertain that its authority would hold up in court.

But some see the rule as an overreach by the federal government. They worry that the proposal would give federal regulators broad authority over small bodies of water on private property, including puddles, despite EPA assurances that would not be the case.

Suthers worries that an expansion of EPA jurisdiction over waters in Colorado could have economic impacts for farmers, water providers, small businesses and local governments because of the expense of complying with the increased regulation.

He also suggested that the proposed rule infringes on the states’ authority to protect and manage water resources.

“The extension of Clean Water Act jurisdiction to include water with a significant nexus to navigable waters will certainly result in added regulation over actions that have not previously been subjected to regulation,” Suthers wrote in his letter to the EPA. “The economic impacts of such a jurisdictional expansion will be very significant for those impacted.

“Under the Clean Water Act, Congress preserves the states’ traditional authority to regulate and manage the development and use of land and water resources,” he said.

Not all farmers, however, agree with the attorney general’s position. Smaller family farmers have been supportive of the proposal, including the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union.

The organization launched a “They Don’t Speak for Me” campaign to demonstrate its support for the recommendation, suggesting that clean water is key to a farmer’s success.

With an abundance of farms and ranches in Southwest Colorado, the issue hits close to home.

“It sounds to me like it’s the same rhetoric as everybody else that opposes the rule,” Bill Midcap, director of external affairs for the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, said of Suthers’ statement. “We really think this rule is vital for the success of our nation’s farmers, energy development and the health of our communities.”

Midcap disagreed with Suthers’ position on water rights and sovereignty, adding, “the Clean Water Act had nothing to do with water rights. It’s all about the quality of our water.”

But U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, said the rule is a direct assault on water rights. He has been at odds with the EPA over the proposed rule for months.

“It is an expansion of the EPA’s regulatory scope without any authority to do so, that disregards state law and privately held water rights,” Tipton said. “This proposed rule could have devastating impacts on water users across Colorado and the nation and restrict their ability to access or put to use their privately held water rights.”

More Environmental Protection Agency coverage here.

Colorado Springs Utilities named “WaterSense Partner of Year” — Monica Mendoza

October 22, 2014

From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Monica Mendoza):

Colorado Springs Utilities is the winner of the 2014 “WaterSense Partner of the Year” award. The team celebrated Wednesday at the Colorado Springs Utilities Board meeting.

The award comes from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which publicly recognized Utilities was honored in Las Vegas at the WaterSmart Innovations Conference.

Utilities was presented the award for its “commitment to water efficiency and efforts to educate Americans about WaterSense during 2013.”

By producing and promoting WaterSense labeled products, new homes and programs, WaterSense partners helped Americans save 271 billion gallons of water in 2013 alone —enough water to supply all U.S. homes for 26 days, Utilities officials said. More than 1,500 utility, manufacturer, retail, builder and organizational partners participated.

Colorado Springs Utilities was honored as a 2014 WaterSense Partner of the Year for helping low-income and non-profit housing providers improve efficiency with WaterSense retrofits, supporting apartment owners and managers in property upgrades, helping builders incorporate WaterSense Home certification and educating customers through events, classes, and its WaterSense product demonstration at its Conservation and Environmental Center.

“WaterSense is a crucial venue to discuss conservation and performance,” said Ann Seymour, Utilities water conservation manager. “By leveraging the WaterSense program, we can reach our conservation goals, as well as help customers save water, energy, and money. It’s a true example of win-win.”

EPA Region 8 calls for comments from water managers in West’s arid climate on “Waters of the US”

October 22, 2014

EPA: The economy and protecting water are connected more than you think

October 17, 2014

Comment period for Waters of the US Rulemaking was extended until Nov. 14

October 15, 2014

More Environmental Protection Agency coverage here.

Clean water drives Colorado tourism and business — Taylor Edrington

October 14, 2014
The Holy Cross Mountains from the air with fall colors in the foreground via Summit County Citizens Voice

The Holy Cross Mountains from the air with fall colors in the foreground via Summit County Citizens Voice

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Taylor Edrington):

There truly is no better feeling than stepping into a beautiful, high-mountain stream or river in Colorado on a quest to fool one of its inhabiting trout. It’s a surreal surrounding — with the crisp, clean air, the clean, cool water and the rugged landscapes that make up our playground as an angler in Colorado. I have been exploring Colorado’s backcountry fly fishing opportunities my entire life, and have made it my mission to help other outdoor enthusiasts experience Colorado’s phenomenal trout streams.

As a Colorado business owner, and as a sportsman, exploring Colorado’s Gold Medal trout streams and all they offer is priceless. However, these bodies of water are at an increased risk because of confusing decisions from the Supreme Court about the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act.

Fortunately, there is a rule being proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers that clears the muddied waters and ensures we have rules in place to protect the waters that supply drinking water to nearly three out of four Coloradans. These agencies are in the process of taking input from the public right now on how to improve the Clean Water Act.

I support the efforts to clarify the Clean Water Act because I’ve seen firsthand that healthy headwaters and streams — and our outdoor way of life — depend on clean water. For sportsmen, this proposed rule is critical. In addition to reducing flooding, filtering pollution, and recharging underground aquifers, clean, productive wetlands and headwater streams here in Colorado provide essential habitat for fish and wildlife.

Beyond inspiring aesthetics, outdoor recreation is also big business, contributing over $686 billion to our national economy annually. Here in Colorado, hunting and fishing alone is a $1.5 billion industry, contributing $150 million in state and local taxes each year and employing nearly 19,000 Coloradans. That means this rule also matters to our economy.

Recently I was guiding a group from Williams Lake, British Columbia, Canada, on my home water —the Upper Arkansas River in Bighorn Sheep Canyon. We enjoyed a typical day on Colorado’s longest Gold Medal River — plenty of fish to the net, beautiful surroundings, the sounds, the smells, the essential Colorado fly fishing experience. During the day we discussed the recent Mount Polley disaster near their hometown.

The Mount Polley Mine tailings pond dam breached in that crisis, releasing 17 million cubic meters of slurry into the local watersheds. This disaster destroyed all watershed habitats in the nearby area, drinking water sources and much more.

While we were discussing the tragedy, I realized that all too often we take clean water for granted. Properly managing our watersheds requires vigilance, and it starts with a restored Clean Water Act.

Yet, instead of working for clean water, some members of Congress are actively trying to scuttle the EPA’s and Army Corps’deliberative process. I urge our U.S. senators to stand up for the 10,000 miles of streams and 2,000 lakes we have in Colorado that are at risk.

I personally spend countless hours fly fishing throughout Colorado. My business depends on the great resources this state has to offer. Restoring the Clean Water Act is the right thing to do, to protect what we have.

Taylor Edrington is the owner and president of Royal Gorge Anglers Inc., in Canon City.

Hunters and Anglers Need a Restored Clean Water Act — Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, et. al.

October 13, 2014

More Environmental Protection Agency coverage here.


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