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NRMCA Voices Concern of EPA Clean Water Act Provisions

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Late last month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a pre-publication version of its long-delayed Clean Water Act (CWA) Jurisdictional rulemaking. The rule is still being evaluated by NRMCA staff, but it appears to expand the types of waters covered by the CWA. NRMCA has long been concerned about how expansion of federal jurisdiction over marginal waters would place an undue burden on ready mixed concrete operations, aggregate operations and new construction starts. NRMCA is committed to the protection and restoration of America’s wetland resources. However, NRMCA has consistently opposed dramatic increases in federal authority, especially over marginal waters such as rarely flowing streams, groundwater and isolated ponds. NRMCA has not supported the Clean Water Restoration Act and EPA’s recent 2011 guidance document, which share many commonalities with the proposed rule. Expanding federal authority under the CWA would greatly increase the number of ready mix operations required to get permits for industrial and stormwater discharges and the number of construction sites required to obtain appropriate permits from the Army Corps, which will also result in the delay of construction projects. The Army Corps current backlog of permits ranges between 15,000 - 20,000 without including new waters. 
In September 2013, EPA published a draft report synthesizing the peer reviewed scientific literature on the connectivity of streams and wetlands to large bodies of water. NRMCA submitted comments on the draft report to the Science Advisory Board. While the peer-review of this rule has not been issued, EPA has stated that it will use the report as the scientific basis for the rulemaking. Questions have already been raised about why the rule has been released before the report has been finalized. Immediately following EPA’s announcement of the proposed rule, congressional committee chairmen, including Transportation and Infrastructure’s Bill Schuster and Water & Environment Subcommittee Chairman Bob Gibbs, blasted the rule and announced they will hold hearings on the matter.

The rule should be published in the Federal Register within the next two weeks, at which point the 90-day comment period begins. NRMCA will submit comments on the rule on behalf of the association and work with other industry partners and Congress to ensure the best possible outcome for the ready mix industry.

The proposed rule can be found here. For more information, contact Elizabeth Fox at or 240-485-1156.

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