— ConservationColorado (@ConservationCO) March 20, 2015
From Agri Pulse (Philip Brasher):
The Obama administration is promising to rewrite its proposed Clean Water Act rule to ensure that farmers have clear guidance about what streams, ditches and ponds will be regulated.
Speaking to the National Farmers Union annual convention in Wichita, Kansas, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said the final rule is being prepared for White House review, and that the administration still intends to complete it this spring.
EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers are working to tighten the definitions of ditches, tributaries and farm-field erosional features to narrow what areas fall under the law’s jurisdiction as “waters of the United States” (WOTUS), she said.
“We are going to come out with a rule that is not only reasonable but implementable,” she said.
The final rule will be accompanied by extensive guidance in a question-and-answer format that will include photographs to make it easier for farmers to understand what areas of their land might be regulated, she said.
“You will have a catalog of your questions answered by putting together real-life things that you’re doing on your farms and ranches,” she said.
The National Farmers Union, unlike the larger American Farm Bureau Federation, was initially supportive of the proposed rule when it was released a year ago but later began to raise concerns as well. In comments filed last fall, NFU pressed EPA to rewrite the definitions to make clear that the agency would not increase the law’s jurisdiction. NFU is scheduled to debate its policy positions on Tuesday.
McCarthy told the group that the administration had bungled the rollout of the rule and should have called it the “Clean Water rule” rather than WOTUS. “Even if we had a less-than-ideal start, that doesn’t preclude us from getting this done right,” she said.
She offered no specifics about the revised language. But she said the final rule would make clear, for example, that erosional features in a farmer’s field would be exempt and that the agency was considering rewriting the definition of “upland ditches” to make it less confusing.
Officials also are “thinking through ways to be more specific” about the definition of “other waters,” which includes wetlands, a critical issue in the northern Plains, she said.
She said the definition of tributary would be made clear that the rule would only cover “natural or constructed streams – the ones that could carry pollution downstream-which have to have the amount, duration and frequency of flow to look, act, and function like a tributary. They are the ones that we don’t want to pollute or destroy without thinking about how to mitigate impacts downstream.”
Justice Hobbs is a friend of Coyote Gulch. Over the years I’ve published a small portion of his poems including photo poems that he’s written in the recent past. On the occasions where I’ve had an opportunity to talk with him at some length I’ve learned the depth of his life experience — he has travelled, written, and learned about the world around him due to his curious nature and love of knowledge. His love of family also shows up in conversations.
One of my favorite Hobbs’ poems :
To each of us
The land, the air, the water,
Mountain, canyon, mesa, plain,
Lightning bolts, clear days with no rain,
At the source of all thirst,
At the source of all thirst-quenching hope,
At the root and core of time and no-time,
The Great Divide Community
Stands astride the backbone of the continent,
Gathering, draining, reflecting, sending forth
A flow so powerful it seeps rhythmically
Alive to each of us,
To drink, to swim, to grow corn ears
To listen to our children float the streams
Of their own magnificence,
Out of their seeping dreams,
Out of their useful silliness,
Out of their source-mouths
High and pure,
The Great Divide,
You and I, all that lives
And floats and flies and passes through
All we know of why.
Reprinted, with permission, from Colorado Mother of Rivers, Water Poems by Justice Greg Hobbs
Another poem that Greg sent in the wee hours of the morning after we all learned of Ed Quillen’s passing:
Hurrah for Quillen!
Curmudgeon Wit gloried in the
great First Amendment.
Reprinted, with permission.
Here’s an article about his retirement from Mark Harden writing for the Denver Business Journal:
Gregory J. Hobbs Jr., a Colorado Supreme Court justice known as an expert on water and environmental law, will retire Aug. 31 after more than 19 years on the high court, the court announced Thursday.
Greg Hobbs was appointed to the court in April 1996 by Gov. Roy Romer and has twice been retained for 10-year terms by the state’s voters.
He previously practiced law for 23 years, focusing on water, environment, land use and transportation.
In 2007, Hobbs was named by then-Supreme Court Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey to lead a committee to review the state’s water-court system.
In 1997, Hobbs wrote a key Supreme Court ruling in a case over the way in which Denver Water figured its rates, brought by suburban water districts. The decision said Denver Water has the authority to set rates however it likes, but warned that the utility can’t “abuse its authority” to “reap monopoly profits.”
Hobbs is a former senior partner with Hobbs, Trout & Raley PC, and partner with Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP. He also previously served as first assistant Colorado attorney general with the Natural Resources Section and as an enforcement attorney with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Hobbs — a native of Gainesville, Florida — also has written poetry, collected in the 2005 book “Colorado, Mother of Rivers: Water Poems”; formerly taught environmental law at the University of Denver; and once was a sixth-grade teacher in New York City.
Thanks for your friendship Greg and good luck to you in retirement.