Ditch the Myth

Let’s get serious about protecting clean water

This post addresses concerns and misconceptions about the proposal by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to protect clean water. The proposed rule clarifies protection under the Clean Water Act for streams and wetlands that form the foundation of the nation’s water resources. The following facts emphasize that this proposed rule cuts through red tape to make normal farming practices easier while also ensuring that waters are clean for human health, communities, and the economy.


MYTH: The rule would regulate all ditches, even those that only flow after rainfall.

TRUTH: The proposed rule actually reduces regulation of ditches because for the first time it would exclude ditches that are constructed through dry lands and don’t have water year-round. Tweet the truth

MYTH: A permit is needed for walking cows across a wet field or stream.

TRUTH: No. Normal farming and ranching activities don’t need permits under the Clean Water Act, including moving cattle. Tweet the truth

 The proposed rule to protect clean water will not change exclusions and exemptions for agriculture.

MYTH: Ponds on the farm will be regulated.

TRUTH: The proposed rule does not change the exemption for farm ponds that has been in place for decades. It would for the first time specifically exclude stock watering and irrigation ponds constructed in dry lands. Tweet the truth

MYTH: Groundwater is regulated by the Clean Water Act.

TRUTH: The proposed rule specifically excludes groundwater. Tweet the truth

MYTH: The federal government is going to regulate puddles and water on driveways and playgrounds.

TRUTH: Not remotely true. Such water is never jurisdictional. Tweet the truth

MYTH: EPA is gaining power over farms and ranches.

TRUTH: No. All historical exclusions and exemptions for agriculture are preserved. Tweet the truth

The proposed rule to protect clean water does not require permits for normal farming activities like moving cattle.

MYTH: Only the 56 conservation practices are now exempt from the Clean Water Act.

TRUTH: No. The proposal does not remove the normal farming exemption. It adds 56 beneficial conservation practices to the exemption, which is self-implementing. Tweet the truth

Download the interpretive rule signed by EPA and USDA

MYTH: The proposed rule will apply to wet areas or erosional features on fields.

TRUTH: Water-filled areas on crop fields are not jurisdictional and the proposal specifically excludes erosional features. Tweet the truth

MYTH: This is the largest land grab in history.

TRUTH: The Clean Water Act only regulates the pollution and destruction of U.S. waters. The proposed rule would not regulate land or land use. Tweet the truth

MYTH: EPA and the Army Corps are going around Congress and the Supreme Court.

TRUTH: EPA and the Army Corps are responding to calls from Congress and the Supreme Court to clarify regulations. Chief Justice Roberts said that a rulemaking would provide clarification of jurisdiction. Tweet the truth

The proposed rule to protect clean water keeps in place the current exemptions for farm ponds.

MYTH:  The proposal will now require permits for all activities in floodplains.

TRUTH: The Clean Water Act does not regulate land and the agencies are not asserting jurisdiction over land in floodplains. Tweet the truth

MYTH:  The proposed rule will harm the economy.

TRUTH: Protecting water is vital to the health of the economy. Streams and wetlands are economic drivers because of their role in fishing, hunting, agriculture, recreation, energy, and manufacturing. Tweet the truth

MYTH:  The costs of this proposal are too burdensome.

TRUTH: For this proposed rule, the potential economic benefits are estimated to be about TWICE the potential costs – $390 to $510 million in benefits versus $160 to $278 million in costs.  Tweet the truth

Download an economic analysis about the proposed rule

MYTH:  This is a massive expansion of federal authority.

TRUTH: The proposal does not protect any waters that have not historically been covered under the Clean Water Act. The proposed rule specifically reflects the more narrow reading of jurisdiction established by the Supreme Court and the rule protects fewer waters than prior to the Supreme Court cases. Tweet the truth

The proposed rule to protect clean water does not regulate floodplains.

MYTH:  This is increasing the number of regulated waters by including waters that do not flow year-round as waters of the United States.

TRUTH: Streams that only flow seasonally or after rain have been protected by the Clean Water Act since it was enacted in 1972. More than 60 percent of streams nationwide do not flow year-round and contribute to the drinking water supply for 117 million Americans. Tweet the truth

See a map of counties that depend on these sources for drinking water

MYTH:  Only actual navigable waters can be covered under the Clean Water Act.

TRUTH: Court decisions and the legislative history of the Clean Water Act make clear that waters do not need actual navigation to be covered, and these waters have been protected by the Clean Water Act since it was passed in 1972. Tweet the truth

MYTH:  The rule includes no limits on federal jurisdiction.

TRUTH: The proposed rule does not protect any waters that have not historically been covered under the Clean Water Act and specifically reflects the Supreme Court’s more narrow reading of jurisdiction, and includes several specific exclusions. Tweet the truth

The proposed rule to protect clean water does not regulate puddles.

MYTH:  This rule is coming before the science is available. 

TRUTH: EPA’s scientific assessment is based on more than 1,000 pieces of previously peer-reviewed and publicly available literature. The rule will not be finalized until the scientific assessment is finalized. Tweet the truth

Download the draft scientific assessment (331 pp, 11 MB, PDF)

MYTH:  This is about little streams in the middle of nowhere that don’t matter.

TRUTH: Everyone lives downstream. This means that our communities, our cities, our businesses, our schools, and our farms are all impacted by the pollution and destruction that happens upstream. Tweet the truth

MYTH:  The proposal infringes on private property rights and hinders development.

TRUTH: EPA, the Army Corps, and states issue thousands of permits annually that allow for property development and economic activity in ways that protect the environment. The proposed rule will help reduce regulatory confusion and delays in determining which waters are covered. Tweet the truth

The proposed rule to protect clean water actually decreases regulation of ditches.

MYTH:  Stakeholders were not consulted in the development of the proposed rule.

TRUTH: This is a proposal. Agencies are seeking public comment and participating in extensive outreach to state and tribal partners, the regulated community including small business, and the general public. Tweet the truth

MYTH:  The federal government is taking authority away from the states.

TRUTH: This proposed rule fully preserves and respects the effective federal-state partnership and federal-tribal partnership established under the Clean Water Act. The proposed rule will not affect state water laws, including those governing water supply and use. Tweet the truth

MYTH:  Nobody wanted a rulemaking to define Waters of the U.S.

TRUTH: A rulemaking to provide clarity was requested by the full spectrum of stakeholders: Congress, industry, agriculture, businesses, hunters and fisherman, and more. Tweet the truth   

See who requested this rulemaking

Humboldt County Democrats

Let’s get serious about protecting clean water

This post addresses concerns and misconceptions about the proposal by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to protect clean water. The proposed rule clarifies protection under the Clean Water Act for streams and wetlands that form the foundation of the nation’s water resources. The following facts emphasize that this proposed rule cuts through red tape to make normal farming practices easier while also ensuring that waters are clean for human health, communities, and the economy.


MYTH: The rule would regulate all ditches, even those that only flow after rainfall.

TRUTH: The proposed rule actually reduces regulation of ditches…

View original post 1,025 more words

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And Amodei Voted “Aye” with Glee

Knowing that the House was getting ready to take up HR2279,  the Reducing Excessive Deadline Obligations Act of 2013, I took the time to write a letter to Rep. Mark Amodei (NV-CD2):

“Very soon, you will be voting on H.R. 2279, the Reducing Excessive Deadline Obligations Act of 2013.

I oppose this legislation and any effort that would eviscerate long-standing protections for communities from the toxic legacy of hazardous waste and pollution.

H.R. 2279 removes important requirements of Superfund (the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act [CERCLA]) and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) to clean up and identify hazardous waste sites nationwide. This bill favors polluters, letting them off the hook for pollution that they created.

One in four Americans lives within three miles of a hazardous waste site. These sites harm human health, pollute water supplies, create urban blight in communities and prevent important economic development. Ensuring polluters clean up their toxic legacies is a benefit for all. H.R. 2279 would destroy that much-needed benefit.

When corporations don’t pony up to clean up their environmental pollution, it’s we the taxpayers who end up cleaning up their mess.  That should NEVER be the case.  If they make the mess, they should clean up their mess.  Please oppose H.R. 2279 and any effort to eviscerate these important laws designed to clean up polluted sites and keep Americans safe from toxic waste.”

This is what I got back from Rep. Amodei’s office:

“Thank you for contacting me regarding the preservation of the environment. I appreciate hearing from you about this issue.

As an outdoorsman and conservationist, I believe we must be good care-takers of our environment. While some in the environmental community are skeptical about the commitment of any Republican to the cause of conservation, I think it is important to note that we have made some notable progress. For example, in the past 30 years over 100 million acres have been set aside as national parks or wilderness areas for protection. You may be pleased to know that recently I introduced the Pine Forest Range Recreation Enhancement Act (H.R. 433) to designate approximately 26,000 acres in Humboldt County as permanent wilderness. I was pleased to introduce a piece of legislation that takes into consideration the input of all community stakeholders.

Please know that I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress to support responsible, common sense reforms that will help conserve our precious natural resources. Like you, I believe that decisions should be made by considering the long-term impact of environmental and energy policies. It is important that we take practical steps today in order to protect our environment for future generations.

I appreciate the fact that you have taken the time to apprise me of your opinions and hope that you will contact me again should you have any further comments or concerns. If you would like additional information on my activities in the House, please visit my website, www.Amodei.house.gov or connect with me on facebook.com/MarkAmodeiNV2 and twitter.com/MarkAmodeiNV2.

In closing, please know that I consider it a privilege to serve and represent you and your family in Congress.”

Instead of protecting our environment, I got nice piece of distraction saying what an avid outdoorsman and conservationist he is and how he’s such a good caretaker of our environment.  Well, that’s the biggest bunch of bull-puckey I’ve been served up!  As soon as HR2279 came up for a vote, Rep. Amodei (the only representative from Nevada to do so) gleefully voted “AYE” for passage of HR2279.  Rep. Amodei is clearly a supporter of Corporate Anarchy and is not only NOT protecting our country’s natural resources, he’s failing to adequately protect the environment for his constituents.

I can imagine that 300,000 West Virginia residents who now have NO drinking water, NO bathing water, NO domestic water, are thrilled this onerous bill wasn’t in effect when a chemical company spilled toxic chemicals in the river that provides their domestic water needs.

Cleaning Up Campaign Finance to Save the Environment

The assault on our democracy is a bigger problem than the temporary closure of national parks.

By Michael Brune

Michael Brune

America’s best idea is in trouble, and I don’t mean our national parks. Yes, our parks were closed, which was a crushing disappointment for millions of would-be visitors and an economic gut-punch for neighboring communities — to the tune of $76 million dollars a day.

But what’s really under attack is something even older than our national park system: our democracy.

Image courtesy of Oil Change International

How did we reach a point where one fraction of one party that controls one chamber of Congress would drive our government into the ground if it doesn’t get everything its members want? ‘This shutdown is like a firefighter standing on the hose to stop the rest of the company from putting out a blaze until he gets a million-dollar raise — all while the building burns.

We didn’t get here by accident. It’s the result of a systematic attack on basic democratic principles by a handful of people who have no interest in a functioning democracy. While there is no excuse, there is an explanation.

It starts with big money. The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision opened the floodgates for a tidal wave of corrupting corporate money into our system. But where is the money coming from and where is it going?

Huge amounts are from polluter-backed groups, which spent more than $270 million on television ads in just two months of the 2012 election — and that explains why Congress has taken more than 300 votes attacking clean air and water. The same people who are poisoning our democracy are also determined to poison our environment. It’s no surprise that 80 percent of Americans agree that political money is preventing our most important challenges from being addressed.

At the same time, special interest groups are spending millions to keep anyone who disagrees with them away from the polls and out of office. No sooner did the Supreme Court gut a key part of the Voting Rights Act, that state houses with Republican majorities pushed through suppressive legislation to keep young people, seniors, students, and people of color away from the polls. It’s no coincidence that those are the same citizens who have voted against them.

These challenges have led the Sierra Club to team up with the NAACP, Communications Workers of America, and Greenpeace to form the Democracy Initiative. Our goal is to build a movement to halt the corrupting influence of corporate money in politics, prevent the manipulation and suppression of voters, and address other obstacles to significant reform.

Challenges to our democracy might get even worse. We’re fighting a frightening Supreme Court challenge to campaign finance limits that would allow individuals to write million dollar checks to buy influence, brought to the court by Shaun McCutcheon — a coal company CEO.

Only about 1,200 people came close to reaching the spending limits McCutcheon wants overturned — and a good number of them are oil, gas, and coal executives, from the sectors that directly contributed $40 million in 2012. Give them free rein to write whatever size of a check they want, and we’ll see that number skyrocket.

The faster that money pours in, the quicker the voices of ordinary Americans are drowned out. We can’t let that happen. And we won’t. They may have millions of dollars, but we have millions of people. And, thanks to efforts like the Democracy Initiative, we are organizing and coming together to make sure our voices are heard.

If we want to see more shutdowns and debt crises, then we should maintain the status quo. If we want more attacks on our air, water, and climate, then all we need to do is turn away in disgust at the political posturing. But if we want to restore a democracy that works for Americans and will preserve a healthy planet for future generations, it’s time to stand up and fight back.


Michael Brune is the executive director of the Sierra Club, the largest grassroots environmental organization in the United States. SierraClub.org. Image courtesy of Oil Change International. Distributed via OtherWords (OtherWords.org)

Can KXL Pass the President’s Climate Test?

— Tom Steyer, NextGenClimate

At his Georgetown University address this June, President Obama laid down a bold marker on the Keystone XL Pipeline: he would only approve the project if it does not significantly increase carbon pollution.

Since then, we’ve learned the following:

  • Keystone XL is the only viable way to exploit the Canadian tar sands — alternatives like rail could never fully replace the pipeline’s volume.
  • Because of this, Keystone XL’s completion will dramatically speed the extraction of dirty tar sands oil — increasing the rate of production by up to 36%.
  • Accordingly, Keystone XL’s carbon impact is massive. The project would add more carbon to our atmosphere over its lifetime than the combined tailpipe emissions of every car in America for one year.

Now, just 6 months after the President’s promise, the conversation shifts back to Georgetown to evaluate these facts.

“Can Keystone Pass the President’s Climate Test?” is a summit co-hosted by NextGen Climate Action and the Center for American Progress Action Fund that will bring together top academic and private sector experts to look at:

  • the pipeline’s carbon footprint
  • whether that footprint can be meaningfully offset, and
  • what impact the pipeline’s carbon pollution will have on climate change.

RSVP for Monday, December 2nd’s livestream of this event at www.KeystoneTruth.com

Tune in for the truth: the Keystone XL Pipeline is not in our national interest.

If KXL is Approved, This WILL Happen ALL ALONG the Pipeline’s Route

Alberta, Canada has averaged two crude oil spills every day for the past 37 years — and that doesn’t even take into account spills of other types of toxic materials. Is the Obama administration willing to let the same thing happen right here in the United States?

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