Proposed Clean Water Act Change Causes Controversy

Jul 14, 2014

Rhetoric is heating up in Wyoming over new proposed rule from the Environmental Protection Agency. Governor Matt Mead and Senator John Barrasso both claim it will have a huge impact on Wyoming farmers, ranchers and businesses and will give the EPA jurisdiction over more water than ever before.

But Professor Mark Squillace of the University of Colorado School of Law disagrees.

He says the new rule will simply help agencies protect waters that are already covered under the Clean Water Act that often go unprotected right now because the government can't afford to fight over them.

“This new rule is not likely to greatly increase in any way the kinds of waters that are covered, but there’s no doubt a problem right now that the agencies are somewhat fearful of being challenged if they attempt to assert jurisdiction over certain waters,” Squillace added.

He also pointed out that the statute will not impact farming, ranching, or agricultural activities. Those activities are covered under a specific exemption to the Clean Water Act, and the new rule will not change that.

The EPA is taking general comments on the proposed rule until Oct. 20.