Federal clean water rule takes effect in Pennsylvania

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Sep 24, 2015 4:11 AM

Photo by Susquehanna University

(Harrisburg) -- The controversial "Waters of the U.S." rule is now in effect in Pennsylvania, despite a court decision that put it on hold in 13 states.

Farmers and other industry groups have criticized the rule since it was proposed

They argue it's too vague and could vastly increase federal oversight of streams and rivers.

But the federal Environmental Protection Agency says the Waters of the U-S rule is meant to clarify its authority and clean up waterways.

But Mark O'Neill with the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau says the agency should press pause in light of the recent federal court decision.

"EPA has decided well the court says we cannot go into those 13 states, we won't do them, but we will implement the rule in the other 37 states," says O'Neill. "Any real prudent organization would've looked at the ruling in this case, which impacts every state in the nation, and decided that they would put off implementing the rule until a final legal determination about the legality of the whole rule is decided."

Brooks Mountcastle with Clean Water Action doesn't see it that way.

"The benefits far exceed the costs with this rule. We're gonna see greater opportunities for fishing, not to mention swimming opportunities, boating opportunities, etcetera."

The rule took effect in Pennsylvania three weeks ago.

"It's very important that we clarify the confusion that surrounded this issue back during the Bush Administration. And it's our belief and the conservation community's belief that the EPA accomplished that goal," says Mountcastle.

Mountcastle says he expects cleaner streams and rivers because of the rule.

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