Industry environmental group slams Clean Water Act

Officials from Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment (RISE) said last week the organization would not back the recently published Clean Water Act.

RISE representatives said the rule would create a federal law overreach because it would mandate that permits be obtained before pesticide applications could be done adjacent to any collected water, regardless of how small or contained.

“Along with thousands of stakeholders, we asked [the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency] and the [Army Corps of Engineers] for clarity on the definition of the waters of the U.S.," RISE President Aaron Hobbs, said. "What we got in return is a regulation so expansive it includes golf course ponds or water collecting in ditches."

Hobbs noted that the rule could create safety hazards.

“The sweeping redefinition impacts every pesticide treatment near water, including those to treat mosquitoes and help prevent mosquito-borne diseases; to keep power, highway, rail and shipping infrastructure safe and usable; and to eradicate invasive and non-native plant and insect species," Hobbs said. “Federal, state and local governments will see immediate impacts to their vector control programs and their ability to effectively protect people, pets and communities from West Nile Virus, Dengue Fever, heartworm, Eastern and Western Equine Encephalitis, and, the most recent threat, Chikungunya."

Hobbs believes the rule makes it necessary for people to choose between health and safety, or costs and liabilities.

“Towns in Colorado and Alabama have already had to face the decision of either protecting people by spraying for mosquitoes under the high-cost and time-consuming Clean Water Act permitting or determining the costs and liability are simply too high to control the mosquito population in spite of their obligation to protect public health," Hobbs said. "The new regulation puts every state and county in this position.

Formerly known as the “waters of the United States," the revised Clean Water Act was unveiled on Wednesday by the EPA.

“This agency overreach, and their failure to fully consider more than 1 million public comments on the rule, does little for water quality but does create untenable choices for state and local governments trying to protect their residents, environment and infrastructure,” Hobbs added.

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