February 12, 2019

Cardin, Carper, Duckworth Lead 36 Senators Urging EPA to Extend Comment Period for Proposed WOTUS Rule

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), top Democrat of the EPW Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), top Democrat on the EPW Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife, along with Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, led two letters to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers urging an extension of the comment period for the proposed rule to replace the 2015 Clean Water Rule (WOTUS). 

Also leading the House letter were Reps. Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.), chair of the House Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, and Don Beyer (D-Va.), co-chair of the Congressional Safe Climate Caucus. Over 160 representatives signed the House letter, while 36 senators signed the Senate letter.

“Virtually every industry relies on clean water, and these interests-along with all Americans-want to know which waters are covered by federal law and regulation. Given that your agencies have opted to affect the interests of these constituencies, every effort should be made to provide sufficient time for comment,” wrote the senators.

“Americans depend on clean water for their health and livelihoods. Today, more than 117 million Americans - in both large cities and small and rural towns - obtain their drinking water from the same streams and waterbodies made more vulnerable to pollution under the Trump administration's proposed rule. Yet, despite this impact, the administration proposes only a 60-day comment period on this proposed rule. We believe this period is far too short to allow the countless Americans directly impacted by this endeavor to understand fully its magnitude and to make their voices heard on the proposal, if they so choose,” wrote the representatives.

The members request that the Administration extend the comment period for the WOTUS replacement to the existing Clean Water Rule to at least the same duration as offered by the Obama Administration in establishing that Rule - 207 days. That public comment period, first established for 90 days and extended twice in response to extension requests, yielded more than a million comments from concerned individuals and families.

The full letter from the House members can be found HERE.

A PDF of the Senate letter can be found HERE, and the full text of the letter is below:

February 11, 2019

The Honorable Andrew Wheeler

Acting Administrator

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20460         

 

The Honorable R.D. James

Assistant Sec. of the Army

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Works

Department of the Army

108 Army Pentagon

Washington, DC 20310 – 0108

Dear Acting Administrator Wheeler and Assistant Secretary James:

We write to request an extension of the proposed comment period associated with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (Corps’) proposed rule to replace the 2015 Clean Water Rule.

The 60-day comment period in the proposed rule is far too short to allow full review, careful analysis, and feedback from as many Americans potentially impacted by this endeavor as wish to share their views, including the millions of Americans who receive drinking water from the waterbodies affected by this proposal.

We would urge you to extend that comment period to at least the same duration as offered by the previous Administration – 207 days.  As you know, EPA and the Corps extended the comment period on the prior rule twice in response to requests.  The full comment period extended from April 21—November 14, 2014, yielding more than a million comments.  It makes no sense to deny affected and concerned Americans the same opportunity to weigh in on your proposal to replace that rule.

Virtually every industry relies on clean water, and these interests—along with all Americans—want to know which waters are covered by federal law and regulation.

Given that your agencies have opted to affect the interests of these constituencies, every effort should be made to provide sufficient time for comment.  Doing so will allow affected citizens to consider the proposal and its implications on their health, lives and livelihoods, and provide the feedback you seek.  The 60 days you propose is simply not enough time to do so meaningfully.

We would appreciate hearing from you by February 25, 2019, on your intentions regarding this request.

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