States say half of wetlands would lose protection under EPA proposal
(Reuters) - Fourteen states, including New York and California, and the District of Columbia said the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to replace an Obama-era water regulation would end federal protection for half of wetlands and 15 percent of streams across the country.
The attorneys general issued a joint statement on Monday critical of the EPA’s proposal to narrow the scope of protections in the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule that President Barack Obama’s administration expanded in 2015 to cover a wide range of water bodies.
The public comment period for the EPA proposal closed on Monday. It is one of dozens of the Trump administration’s efforts to rescind environmental rules to boost the energy and agriculture industries.
The attorneys general said the Trump EPA violated the underlying federal Clean Water Act, whose goal is to restore and maintain “the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters.”
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Washington, New York: We'll fight Trump order boosting coal, oil projects
President Donald Trump has signed an executive order designed to block states from using a provision of the Clean Water Act to delay or prevent big oil and coal projects such as a proposed coal export terminal in Longview on the Columbia River.
The states of Washington and New York are vowing to block Trump.
"No amount of politicking will change the facts -- states have full authority under the Clean Water Act to protect our waters and ensure the health and safety over our people," Gov. Jay Inslee and AG Bob Ferguson said in a joint statement. ...
Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York described the Trump order as "a gross overreach of federal authority" and vowed to fight it "tooth and nail." The Empire State has denied a permit to the Constitution Pipeline, which would carry natural gas from Canada into New England.
Trump signaled that he, too, is ready for a fight. "My action today will cut through destructive permitting delays and denials," he said in Houston on Thursday. The President singled out New York for allegedly "hurting the country."
A crisis in Kentucky shows the high cost of clean drinking water
LOVELY, Ky. — When the well water here turned brown and started tasting salty, Heather Blevins’s parents hooked their property on Dead Man’s Curve into the municipal supply. It seemed like a blessing until new hazards emerged: Today, Blevins says, the tap water smells of bleach, occasionally takes on a urine-colored tinge, and leaves her 7- and 8-year-old children itching every time they take a bath.
“The way the water is now, I’d rather have well water,” said Blevins, 44, who keeps a constant eye on the county water district’s Facebook page to watch for pipe breaks and boil-water advisories. Blevins, who says her water rates rocketed recently from $19 to almost $40 a month, sets aside money from her $980 Social Security check for bottled drinking water and chemical-free baby wipes to keep her allergy-prone children clean. ...
It’s been “like that” for decades here in Martin County, as it has in other pockmarked parts of coal country. The water crisis peaked last year when service to many residents was shut off, members of the water board quit, and the attorney general opened a criminal investigation into allegations of mismanagement. The Kentucky House recently passed a resolution asking Gov. Matt Bevin (R) to declare a state of emergency and free up resources to fix the dilapidated system. ...
But State Rep. Chris Harris (D), who advocated for the state of emergency, warned that Martin County’s problems could soon be everyone’s.
“As the infrastructure deteriorates around the country, we are going to see more and more Martin Counties,” he said.
The challenges are monumental here in Appalachia and beyond: The American Society of Civil Engineers gave the nation’s drinking-water system a D grade in its quadrennial report card. The network of more than 1 million miles of pipes includes many that are a century old and have a 75-year life expectancy. Across the country, 14 percent of treated water is lost through leaks, and here in Martin County, that figure has at times reached more than 70 percent. The American Water Works Association estimates that it will take $1 trillion to support demand over the next 25 years; in Martin County, repairs carry a price tag exceeding $10 million.