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1 Mississippi, the Corps of Engineers, the EPA, and the Clean Water Act

Confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi River

When Congress passed the Clean Water Act in 1972, it put the Corps of Engineers in charge of regulating the dredging and filling of the nation’s wetlands. “Under Section 404 of the act, Congress authorized the Corps of Engineers to issue permits for the dredging and filling of wetlands under guidelines developed by the newly formed Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA can, in effect, deny a permit or kill a Corps’ project if it finds it has a “significant degradation of municipal water supplies, including surface or groundwater; or significant loss or damage to fisheries, shellfishing, wildlife habitat, or recreation areas.” Finally, using the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act of 1934, Congress gave the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service the authority to review and comment on the effects activities proposed or permitted by the Corps would have on fish and wildlife. ” For more information see The Mississippi.

Now, the Barrassa/Heller Amendment to  H.R. 2354: Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012 seeks to remove that authority from the Corps. It reads:

SA 939. Mr. BARRASSO (for himself and Mr. HELLER) submitted an amendment intended to be proposed by him to the bill H.R. 2354, making appropriations for energy and water development and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2012, and for other purposes; which was ordered to lie on the table; as follows:

On page 88, between lines 18 and 19, insert the following:

Sec. 1__None of the funds made available by this or any other Act making funds available for energy and water development may be used by the Corps of Engineers to develop, adopt, implement, administer, or enforce a change or supplement to the rule entitled “Final Rule for Regulatory Programs of the Corps of Engineers” (51 Fed. Reg. 41206 (November 13, 1986)) (as in effect on the date of enactment of this Act), or to the guidance documents entitled “Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the Clean Water Act Regulatory Definition of `Waters of the United States’ ” (68 Fed. Reg. 1991 (January 15, 2003)), and “Clean Water Act Jurisdiction Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s Decision in `Rapanos v. United States & Carabell v. United States’ ” (December 2, 2008) (as in effect on that date of enactment), relating to the definition of waters under the jurisdiction of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.).

1 Mississippi is asking its members, 10,000 strong since September, to write their Senators to vote note on the Barrasso/Heller amendment to the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012–H.R, 2354. When you open the document, submit your zip code, a letter will come up along with the phone numbers of your senators. Sign the letter and then call your senators. Tell them to vote against the amendment.

Follow up: Should one or both of your senators vote for the amendment, send him an email expressing your disappointment.

Update: William K. Reilly, EPA administrator 1989-1993 under the first George Bush, enlarges on the issues facing the Clean Water Act in light of two Supreme Court rulings and the Republican House antipathy to any regulation. The house passed the Barrasso/Heller amendment in July.

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