Today, the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled plans to replace the Clean Water Rule which they repealed last year with a new, substantially weaker set of requirements for protecting water quality. The new proposal would essentially drop Clean Water Act protections for a wide expanse of Montana’s streams and wetlands.
In response to the proposal, Dave Chadwick, Executive Director of the Montana Wildlife Federation said the following:
“This new proposal throws out protections for Montana’s headwater streams and isolated wetlands, which will have a severe impact on fish and wildlife habitat as well as drinking water supplies for our communities. Headwater streams are Montana’s fish hatcheries, supporting our world-class fishing opportunity. This proposal will endanger that resource, which will ultimately hit our outdoor economy.
“Equally troubling, today’s proposal is yet another effort by the federal government to throw out years of hard work for no good reason. In addition to being bad policy, this change is going to provoke more lawsuits and unleash chaos for water and land users. At some point, we need our leaders in Washington to lead our nation forward instead of spending all their time rolling back existing policies.”
According to geologists:
· 60% of Montana’s wetlands are geographically isolated
· 60% of Eastern Montana’s streams are ephemeral
· 30% of Western Montana’s streams are ephemeral
These areas will lose protection from dredging, filling, dumping, and other development activities under the proposal rule.