Proposed Change to the Clean Water Act Open for Public Comment

 1526665643 
1550160811

Public comment is now open for a proposed change that will eliminate federal protection for small tributaries and ephemeral waterways.

Mary Scott Hodgin, WBHM

Starting Thursday, the public has 60 days to comment on an EPA proposal that would limit which waterways are protected under the Clean Water Act. In Alabama, environmental groups say the change would potentially endanger the state’s drinking water.

The proposal redefines what the EPA considers a “water of the United States.” It eliminates federal protection for smaller tributaries, like groundwater and waterways that only flow with rainfall.

Keith Johnston, attorney with Southern Environmental Law Center, opposes the change.

“It’s extremely impactful to Alabama because Alabama is one of the most biologically diverse, aquatically diverse states in the union,” Johnston says, “And this threatens all of our waters and wetlands.”

Johnston says these headwater streams and waterways feed into larger bodies of water used for recreation or drinking sources.

Some groups, like the Alabama Farmer’s Federation and the Business Council of Alabama, have shown support for the proposed change. They say the EPA’s current definition is too broad and inhibits development.

The public has until April 15 to comment on the proposal. After that, the EPA will release the final rule, but litigation is expected.

More Environment Coverage

Legislative Wrap-Up: What Died And What Passed On The Final Day

Many bills made it out before Monday's deadline. But the lawmakers also expect a special session later this year.

Alabama Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Legislation

Lawmakers had a change of heart after decades of debate on the issue.

UAB Closes Three COVID-19 Mass Vaccination Sites While Alabama’s Vaccination Rate Remains Below 50%

UAB announced this week it's closing the majority of its public COVID-19 vaccination sites because of a decline in participation. Meanwhile, Alabama remains at the bottom nationally for the number of adults that have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

‘When Buses Were A-Comin’: Remembering The Freedom Riders 60 Years On

A group of young civil rights activists began their journey to the South to challenge segregation on interstate buses in May 1961. The riders were taunted and beaten by white mobs – and jailed. Participants of the movement share what their fight means now.

Using Pastors And Pints, Gulf States Try To Boost COVID Vaccination Rates In White Communities

Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama have the lowest vaccination rates nationally, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Health officials are considering creative incentives to get the numbers up from church events to possible beer giveaways.

As Demand Drops, Health Officials Look For Ways To Encourage Vaccinations

Health officials say at first they were focused on vaccinating elderly and at-risk people in Alabama. Now the focus is shifting to people who are skeptical or apathetic about the vaccine.

More Environment Coverage