Some Michigan farmers are concerned that new EPA water regulations could add red tape and hurdles to their business.
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Many Michigan farmers are wrapping up their spring planting this month. But this season, there’s a cloud hanging overhead...and it’s not bringing nourishing rain. It is, however, all about water. Last week, the U-S Environmental Protection Agency issued its final rule on what it calls the “Waters of the United States.” The action expands the EPA’s jurisdiction over more waterways protected by the Clean Water Act. The agency says the action is necessary to keep the nation’s waters clean. But property owners, including farmers, say the EPA is overstepping its authority and threatening their operations. Current State speaks with Laura Campbell, the Agricultural Ecology department manager with the Michigan Farm Bureau about why the new water rule is so problematic for farmers.
In the second half of his presidency, Barack Obama has been flexing his muscles on environmental regulations. The president has proposed regulations that would significantly cut carbon emissions, one of the main contributors to climate change. But the administration isn’t just worried about air pollution and climate change, they’ve also been thinking about water. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently finalized a rule that would limit pollution into streams and wetlands that are upstream of major waterways.
The conversation around climate change often focuses on how it will disrupt human life. Scientists warn that food shortages, flooding in coastal cities, and deadly heatwaves are just a few of the potentially devastating consequences of a warming planet. But humans aren’t the only ones at risk. Even small changes in temperature could drastically alter the native habitats of plants and animals across the globe, including here in Michigan.
In middle of the 20th century, America’s rivers were in rough shape. Decades of urban growth and industrial pollution had turned many of them into dumping grounds for everything from hazardous chemicals to human waste. A burgeoning environmental movement and high profile events like the 1969 fire on the Cuyahoga River finally pushed Congress to take action. In 1972, it passed the Clean Water Act, giving the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency the authority to regulate water pollution. But which waterways the agency can regulate has been a source of conflict and confusion. In March, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed a rule it says clarifies its jurisdiction.