EPA to take more comments on water regulation

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Jun 17, 2014 2:00 PM

(Harrisburg) -- The federal Environmental Protection Agency is pushing back a deadline for public comments on new regulations for waterways.

Comments on the "Waters of the U.S." rule will be taken until October 20th, instead of July 21st.

Under it, the EPA could regulate tributaries of navigable waters, interstate waters, and territorial seas, plus adjacent waters and what it calls other waters.

And it could try to regulate other waters on a case-by-case basis.

Criticism and confusion has reigned since the rule was first proposed.

"The amount of confusion about it and concern about it suggests we have more work to do. And that's again, why we extended the comment period and why we're out talking to people to make sure we get it right. This is very important for the American public, we need to get it right," says the EPA's acting assistant administrator for water, Nancy Stoner.

She visited Berks County recently and made the point on WITF's Smart Talk that some are making the issue a political one.

"That's a particularly big deal in this region, Berks County, where I am, because the water bodies here are source waters. The Scyulkill watershed is a major source water for 2 million people here in Pennslyvania. We want to make sure those waters are safe," says Stoner.

Stoner says the rule would increase regulation for about three percent of the water in the U.S.

Republican Congressman Scott Perry, who represents much of Adams, Cumberland and Dauphin Counties, is among those who have called the proposal an over-reach and unnecessary.

The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau and other critics also say it would slow progress because it could add permitting requirements, plus more waterways to a protected list.

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