Politics

Obama To Beef Up Clean Water Protections Via Executive Order

| by Ethan Brown
Farming.Farming.

President Barack Obama may announce later this week an executive action to protect wetlands, streams and lakes that provide usable drinking water and other needs.

Environmental groups have supported the president, stating that the executive action is a crucial step needed to preserve water sources around the country and provide healthier drinking water to Americans.

The opposition to the action is much greater, as farmers and housing developers object, saying another executive action by the president will intrude on property owners’ rights and will give more power to the executive branch and the federal government overall, The New York Times reported.

With the executive action, President Obama can bypass the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and Senate, which would likely vote down any legislation of this nature.

In addition, Obama will likely announce later in the year new rules that will ban energy companies from expanding and exploring for other sources of oil in select areas that the Environmental Protection Agency has recommended be protected.

“Water is the lifeblood of healthy people and healthy economies. We have a duty to protect it. That’s why EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are finalizing a Clean Water Rule later this spring to protect critical streams and wetlands that are currently vulnerable to pollution and destruction,” Gina McCarthy, the EPA’s administrator, wrote last month in a blog post.

Republican senators have voiced their opposition to the new rules, repeating concerns that it would add too much oversight by the federal government.

“Under this outrageously broad new rule, Washington bureaucrats would now have a say in how farmers, and ranchers, and families use their own property,” Sen. John Barrasso, a Republican from Wyoming, said. “It would allow the EPA to regulate private property just based on things like whether it’s used by animals or birds, or even insects,” he added.

The American Farm Bureau Federation is another organization publicly opposing the new changes.

“The proposed rule provides none of the clarity and certainty it promises. Instead, it creates confusion and risk by providing the agencies with almost unlimited authority to regulate, at their discretion, any low spot where rainwater collects,” the bureau wrote in a letter to Congress.

EPA officials believe nearly 60 percent of all wetlands around the nation are in danger of oil spills and unwanted developments, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Sources: The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons