Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post
Thursday, April 28, 2011
The Obama administration announced Wednesday that it will impose stricter pollution controls on millions of acres of wetlands and tens of thousands of miles of streams.
The new guidelines from the Environmental Protection Agency, which will be codified in a federal regulation later this year, could prevent the dumping of mining waste and the discharge of industrial pollutants to waters that feed swimming holes and drinking water supplies.
The question of which isolated streams and wetlands qualify for protection under the Clean Water Act has been in dispute for a decade. The Supreme Court has issued two decisions, and the George W. Bush administration issued guidance in 2003 and 2008 limiting the scope of the act.
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in a telephone news conference with reporters that although the new rules will expand the waterways enjoying federal protection, "this is not some massive increase, as far as we can tell."
The policy change probably will affect tributaries flowing into water bodies such as the Chesapeake Bay.
Once finalized, the regulations will apply federal water quality standards to a range of waterways, including the headwaters of lakes and rivers as well as intermittent streams.
While environmentalists welcomed the decision, livestock owners and home builders have said it will impose an economic burden.