Scott Pruitt stops in #Utah for #WOTUS briefing

Stevens Arch viewed from Coyote Gulch photo via Joe Ruffert

From The Deseret News (Amy Joi O’Donoghue):

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt visited Utah as part of multistate tour to get input on how the agency can be more responsive to states’ needs in general and in specific how the controversial Waters of the United States rule should be retooled.

During his tour of Utah, Pruitt stopped off at the Bitner Ranch and Conservatory in Park City to get a firsthand look at a small pool of water that falls under federal regulation due to the rule, as well as a subdivision development hampered by permitting requirements…

Pruitt is acting under the direction of an executive order issued in February by President Donald Trump that called for a rollback of the so-called WOTUS rule, which inspired a firestorm of controversy when it was adopted in 2015.

Although celebrated by sportsmen’s groups and environmental organizations as the most comprehensive and significant overhaul of the Clean Water Act in more than 40 years, the rule raised the ire of states, farmers, ranchers and industry officials who complained about its scope and ambiguity.

At the time of its adoption, federal regulators insisted the rule only clarified protections for seasonal waterways that are critical to downstream communities. The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers contended the rule did not expand the scope of jurisdictional oversight — an assertion hotly contested by the National Association of Counties, which argued even ditch maintenance projects would require a Army Corps of Engineers permit.

In late June, Pruitt initiated a proposal to repeal the Waters of the United States rule and later invited states to offer their input on a new regulation that would incorporate a standard in a 2006 U.S. Supreme Court decision. That test said federal jurisdiction would only apply to “relatively permanent, standing or continuously flowing bodies of water…

Utah Farm Bureau President Ron Gibson accompanied Pruitt on the tour Tuesday and praised the EPA action.”

[…]

Environmental groups and conservation organizations that include the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership favored the regulation, citing its protection of wetlands — particularly the Prairie Pothole Region that is home to upward of 70 percent of the ducks in North America.

Seven scientific organizations that include the Society of Wetlands Scientists argued in a letter to Trump that the rule should be left intact.

In a separate announcement during his visit, Pruitt said the EPA will revisit a previous ruling on Utah’s regional haze plan, allowing the state to come up with additional visibility modeling to look at impacts from a pair of PacifCorp-owned power plants to nearby national parks.

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