Stop muddying the water

In March, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers proposed a rule to close loopholes in the Clean Water Act that have left more than half of America’s streams and millions of wetland acres unprotected from pollution. Since then, organizations and individuals who don’t seem that concerned about clean water have leveled every possible criticism against the proposed rule — and some that seem impossible.

I’ve read the proposed rule. I wonder how many of these critics can say the same, especially those who espouse fanciful theories about regulating puddles and even the rain as it falls from the sky.

Is the Waters of the U.S. rule perfect? No, and the Center for Rural Affairs and others have offered credible critiques aimed at improving the rule. True democracy calls for real debate, not mud-slinging and hyperbole.

Rural America — and the family farmers, ranchers and small-town folks therein — are the tip of the spear when it comes to protecting America’s water quality. The proposed Waters of the U.S. is a common-sense effort to clear the regulatory waters, protect the nation’s surface waters, and provide an environment in which economically vital activities such as hunting, fishing and birding as well as farming and ranching can thrive and contribute to a better quality of life and safer drinking water for those of us that live here, and also for our neighbors downstream.

Let’s stop muddying the waters, debate how to improve the rule, and move forward.

John Crabtree
Center for Rural Affairs
Lyons, Nebraska

From the Oct. 8-14, 2014, issue

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