Attorney General Leslie Rutledge testified this morning before the federal Senate Agriculture Committee in opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency‘s proposed rules to clarify protections for the nation’s waterways under the Clean Water Act. 

According to KUAR’s report, Rutledge argued that farmers “would have to obtain legal council to determine whether or not a field on their land falls under this EPA proposed rule.”

Advertisement

The Sierra Club issued a statement: “Attorney General Rutledge has been in office barely two months, and she has already publicly opposed three key clean air and clean water protections. Our state’s top legal official should be embracing steps that lead to cleaner air and water, not fighting against them.”

The three proposals noted by the Sierra Club:
 

Advertisement

*the proposed Clean Power Plan, which seeks to reduce carbon emissions from existing power plants;
*the proposed Ozone rule, which seeks to reduce the allowable levels of harmful ozone pollution; 
*the Waters of the United States clarification, which is the subject of today’s U.S. Senate committee hearing. 

Here’s more on the Waters of the United States rule, which the EPA argues would actually reduce confusion about which waterways fall under the Clean Water Act and would not protect any new types of waters that have not already historically been protected by the Clean Water Act. 

Full statement from Sierra Club Chapter Director Glen Hooks after the jump.

Advertisement

“Attorney General Rutledge has been in office barely two months, and she has already publicly opposed three key clean air and clean water protections. Our state’s top legal official should be embracing steps that lead to cleaner air and water, not fighting against them.

“The ‘Waters of the United States’ rule is simply an attempt to clarify which waterways fall under the Clean Water Act. Since the Clean Water Act was passed in 1972, there have been a series of court decisions that have left the public and regulators confused while leaving many key drinking water sources and much wildlife habitat unprotected. In response, the EPA seeks to clear up confusion and protect drinking water from pollution. Simply put, the proposed rule clarifies not only which waters fall under federal jurisdiction, it also specifically states which ones do not. This will be helpful to everyone who engages with our nation’s waterways.

“The proposed rule actually shrinks Clean Water Act jurisdiction from the scope that existed prior to confusing court decisions that began in 2001. EPA is working to protect critical waterways and tributaries that lead to those waterways, which is exactly what the agency should do.

“Citizens, businesses, and farmers need clarity and certainty, and this rule helps provide that. Unfortunately, Attorney General Rutledge is once again offering a knee-jerk negative response to common-sense environmental protections. Well-crafted environmental protections help everyone, and we are ill-served by an Attorney General who reflexively opposes any and all attempts to protect our natural resources.”