@PWeiser says State of #Colorado will take legal action to protect the state’s waters from weaker federal protections #WOTUS #DirtyWaterRule

Photo credit from report “A Preliminary Evaluation of Seasonal Water Levels Necessary to Sustain Mount Emmons Fen: Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests,” David J. Cooper, Ph.D, December 2003.

Here’s the release from Phil Weiser’s office:

Attorney General Phil Weiser released the following statement regarding the final Waters of the United States rule that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers released today:

“The federal government’s final Waters of the United States rule is too limited and excludes a significant percentage of Colorado’s waters from Clean Water Act protections. The final rule threatens to create unacceptable impacts to the state’s ability to protect our precious state water resources, and, in the absence of extraordinary state efforts to fill the gaps left by the federal government, will harm Colorado’s economy and water quality.

“We are pleased the final rule protects important agriculture exemptions and provides continued assurance that states retain authority and primary responsibility over land and water resources that are important to Colorado. However, the federal government’s decision to remove from federal oversight ephemeral waters, certain intermittent streams, and many wetlands is based on flawed legal reasoning and lacks a scientific basis.

“We are going to take legal action to protect Colorado waters and prevent the harmful aspects of the final rule from taking effect here.”

Fen soils are made of a rich, organic peat material that take thousands of years to form and require a constant groundwater source to survive. At the Rocky Mountain Fen Research Project, scientists transplanted fen soils from another site to the “receiver” site south of Leadville where they restored a groundwater spring to sustain the transplanted soils. Photo credit: Sarah Tory/Aspen Journalism

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Dennis Webb):

The Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers published the new rule Tuesday in the Federal Register, after announcing its components in January. It takes effect June 22.

Much of the ongoing dispute surrounds how “waters of the United States” are defined in implementing the Clean Water Act.

The Trump administration says its new rule applies to territorial seas and traditional navigable waters, perennial and intermittent tributaries to those waters, wetlands adjacent to waters falling under the rule’s jurisdiction, and some lakes, ponds and impoundments. Groundwater, ephemeral streams that flow only due to rainfall, many ditches and prior converted cropland are among waters exempted from the rule.

Weiser and the administration of fellow Democrat Gov. Jared Polis don’t totally oppose the new rule, praising its agricultural exemptions and saying it recognizes state authority…

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment says the rule eliminates many federal protections and almost 70% of Colorado waters could be impacted by the rule.

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