Friday, July 13, 2012

EPA Seeks to Regulate Water as a Pollutant

Fresh off it's June 2011 Supreme Court victory which permits EPA to regulate carbon dioxide, a common gas, produced by all animals as a product of respiration, and used by most plants to make food (along with water and light), the US EPA is now attempting to regulate common water as a pollutant:
The Virginia Department of Transportation and Fairfax County on Thursday sued the Environmental Protection Agency over regulations so strict that they define water itself as a pollutant and would force state and local officials to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to clean it up.

Instead of regulating the flow of pollutants as allowed by the Clean Water Act, the lawsuit says, the EPA is trying to regulate the amount of water that can flow through the Accotink Creek in Fairfax.

VDOT and Fairfax said in a statement that the EPA requirements would actually make the Accotink water worse, while costing VDOT $70 million and Fairfax between $405 million and $510 million.
"Fairfax County has demonstrated a strong and unwavering commitment to water quality and environmental stewardship during the last six decades," said Fairfax County Board Chairwoman Sharon Bulova. "We are absolutely committed to maintaining and improving water quality in Fairfax County and the Chesapeake Bay. However, we believe that regulations, whether federally or state-imposed, must effectively address the targeted problem and be fiscally sound and realistic."
Yes, water commonly carries pollutants (I dare say always, if we allow that carbon dioxide to be counted as a pollutant).  However, up until now, attempted regulations are based on the anthropogenic pollutants carried by the water; the point being to reduce the source of pollution, not the source of the water.  If this is being fairly represented (a newspaper story distort the facts?) it would represent a dangerous extension of EPAs regulatory authority.  There is literally nothing that they can't deem a pollutant and regulate.
The requirements would force VDOT to build new facilities on private property that the state would have to seize through eminent domain, state officials said.

"The EPA is effectively forcing VDOT to regulate [water] runoff from property that it neither owns nor controls," VDOT said in a statement.

The EPA tried to regulate the flow of water in three Missouri waterways, and all three cases are being challenged in federal court, the Virginia agencies noted.

"EPA is currently reviewing the lawsuit," the agency said Friday morning. "The agency established this science-based [water flow limit] to ensure the health of the Accotink Creek. The [limit] is supported by sound science and well within our authority under the Clean Water Act."

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