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Support laws that protect coastal GA
David Kyler
David Kyler is executive director of the St. Simon’s Island-based Center for a Sustainable Coast.

Dear editor:

The Trump Administration is proposing to rewrite the rules under the Clean Water Act in a way that will limit the effectiveness of protecting the nation’s waters from harmful activities under the Clean Water Act. These impacts include serious risks to water supplies, human health, fisheries, wildlife, and recreational areas.

In an effort to retain essential water-quality safeguards, the Center for a Sustainable Coast joined other organizations across the country in signing [a] letter to the acting EPA administrator, Andrew Wheeler. The letter was written by staff of the Water Protection Network, a national coalition of non-profit groups concerned with the importance of clean water, which is vital to public health, environmental quality, and the regional economy.

Since the Center for a Sustainable Coast was established in 1997, we have strongly supported consistent enforcement of laws vital to coastal Georgia’s uniquely beautiful and highly valued environment.  The Clean Water Act is the centerpiece of federal laws protecting America’s water resources.

Because of our region’s vibrant nature-based economy – including tourism, outdoor recreation (boating, hunting, fishing, camping, etc.), and commercial fishing – a healthy environment is crucially important to our economy and quality of life. 

We estimate that coastal Georgia’s natural environment supports some 40,000 jobs, directly and indirectly, or about a fifth of the region’s economy. That corresponds to around $2 billion a year in business activity, much of it in local, family-owned operations.

David Kyler, Director

Center for a Sustainable Coast

Letter, in part, to Andrew Wheeler:

On behalf of millions of  members and supporters of the Clean Water Network across the country, the undersigned organizations call on you to retain the existing Clean Water Act Section 404(c) implementing regulations, and to rescind the June 26, 2018 Memorandum issued by your predecessor that directs the revision of those regulations.

The revisions required by the June Memorandum are unlawful and unwarranted, and threaten the health of the nation’s waters and the vital benefits they provide to people and wildlife. 

The June Memorandum directs EPA to develop and propose new regulations that would eliminate the authority to initiate the Section 404(c) process before a permit application is filed or after a permit has been issued. However, any such regulations must be rejected because they cannot be reconciled with the plain language of the Clean Water Act. 

The Clean Water Act explicitly states that Section 404(c) can be used “whenever” the Administrator determines that the discharge of dredged material would cause an unacceptable adverse impact on “municipal water supplies, shellfish beds and fishery areas (including spawning and breeding areas), wildlife, or recreational areas.” Federal Courts have confirmed that this language means just what it says: the Section 404(c) authority may be used at anytime.

Any revisions to the existing regulations based on the June Memorandum must also be rejected because such revisions clearly are not needed. 

Instead of engaging in this ill-advised and unnecessary rulemaking, EPA should focus its limited resources on achieving the Clean Water Act’s promise of clean, fishable, and swimmable waters for all Americans. 

The Water Protection Network

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