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WOTUS revised – PCA and NSSGA call rule costly and unnecessary

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World Cement,

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Army have finalised the Clean Water Rule. In a statement, the EPA said:

‘The rule ensures that waters protected under the Clean Water Act are more precisely defined and predictably determined, making permitting less costly, easier, and faster for businesses and industry. The rule is grounded in law and the latest science, and is shaped by public input. The rule does not create any new permitting requirements for agriculture and maintains all previous exemptions and exclusions.’

In response, the PCA has released a statement saying that the rule greatly expands EPA’s regulatory authority and creates new bureaucratic red tape for many US industrial activities.

"This rule will impact a wide range of normal US industrial and agricultural activities, at a time when workers are just getting back on the job after eight years of tough economic times," said James G. Toscas, President and CEO of the Portland Cement Association (PCA).  "This is simply the wrong kind of regulation at the wrong time."

"We take environmental compliance very seriously. This rule will make it much more difficult for a cement production facility not only to comply, but also to even know whether it is in compliance," Toscas continued. "We also foresee construction projects being delayed and stalled as contractors struggle to figure out how to comply with complex new requirements that go far beyond anything Congress intended with the Clean Water Act."

Legislation has already been passed in the House of Representatives requiring regulators to work with states, industry and other stakeholders to develop practical ways to protect water quality. Similar legislation is now pending in the Senate.

Toscas added; "This is yet another example of government overreach that is unlikely to help the environment, but very likely to hurt the economy.  Congress is right to send EPA back to the drawing board on this one.”

The National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association stated it was pleased that the rule specifically excludes existing quarry and construction pits, but that it will still subject additional areas to costly and unnecessary permit requirements.

“NSSGA members work diligently to protect our nation’s water resources, following existing federal, state and local laws. This rule will add significant costs to aggregates producers with little or no environmental benefit,” said NSSGA President and CEO Michael W. Johnson. “The increased costs and delays will be passed along to the taxpayers through a higher price tag for infrastructure projects like highways.”

“While we appreciate the clarity for existing operations not being considered waters of the U.S., the agency failed to reduce confusion and add clarity when that was the rule’s intended goal,” Johnson added.

The NSSGA cites the example that existing EPA guidance excludes dry streams from the agency’s purview. Because these typically dry land features are pervasive on the landscape, particularly in the arid southwest, deeming them waters of the US, as the new rule does, unnecessarily increases federal jurisdiction over them.  The rule also allows for jurisdiction over many ditches, which goes far beyond congressional and court limits.

“What this rule really does is allow federal control over vast areas of land that can stop or delay vital projects needed to provide for our infrastructure,” Johnson said. 

Edited from various sources by

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