EPA’s Maps on WOTUS: Hard Truths



This week saw a turning point in the heated debate that few understand over EPA’s proposed rule for regulating Waters of the US (WOTUS). EPA and American Farm Bureau have been in a skirmish of words for weeks over the true scope of the newly proposed rule, which evolved comically into a Twitter fight. (Ditch the Rule vs Ditch the Myth)  The proposed rule, like most federal regs is so complicated few really understand what it would regulate.

EPA contends that in response to questions raised by the US Supreme Court over the scope of the Clean Water Act that it needed to “clarify” its jurisdictional reach. This is the same question that split the Supreme Court so miserably in Rapanos that the emerged test became the meaningless and undefined “nexus” test. So, EPA and the Corps of Engineers marched off to develop the new Waters of the US proposed rule, which inexplicably keeps the “nexus” test, the very problem they were trying to solve.

The fight is real and the stakes are high. Neither the agency or the landowners and businesses know for certain what lands would be regulated. Its just a long confusing pile of words. And there the debate rested, until this week.

Chairman Lamar Smith (Texas) of the US House Comm. on Science Space and Technology uncovered the fact that EPA has water maps of the entire US and each individual state that had not been disclosed to the public. His Letter 

The concealment is telling at this last stage in the rule development. The vast scope of the proposed rule is obvious when you see it on a map. Under pressure from Smith, EPA was forced to disclose the maps, which are available here . 

As you look at your state or the entire US, you will quickly fathom that almost every part of the US, except some of the most desert- like regions would be regulated under the new rule.

Understandably, EPA is now running from its own maps. In a PR wonder, it suggested yesterday that, well yes there are maps and they do show a lot of coverage but they do not depict the actual waters that would be regulated. In other words, we created the maps that shows waters of the US, used them to evaluate the rule, held them back from public or Congressional view but now that you have seen them, we assure you that the maps do not depict what we would regulate. Their reasoning? In actuality it is so difficult to determine what waters would be covered, accurate maps cannot really be generated.

You cannot follow this logic because there really isn’t any. It’s just an all out push, facts be damned to finalize a rule that would be the most extensive coverage ever undertaken by the US Govt.

In jury trials, more often than not its your own evidence that kills you, it’s not the others side’s. The maps speak volumes about the process and the broad scope of what EPA seeks to do. You can always hide words with more words. But you cannot run from a map.