State officials said Thursday they will oppose new proposed federal regulations that are being pushed as a way to protect additional smaller streams and wetlands.
Gov. Nikki Haley and state Attorney General Alan Wilson joined with governors and attorneys general in 10 other states in a joint letter Thursday asking the Environmental Protection Agency to scrap its proposed “Waters of the U.S.” rule.
The proposed rules are an attempt by the EPA to restore some protections to intermittent streams and isolated wetlands, categories which cover more than half of America’s streams. Previous protections were overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court 13 years ago. But opponents worry the changes would expand the agency’s power to include previously unregulated seasonal wetlands like farm ditches or
“If the ‘Waters of the U.S.’ rule is allowed to take effect, it could have a catastrophic impact on South Carolina’s economy,” Wilson said in a statement released by his office. “Farmers would suddenly be burdened by excessive red tape. County governments would be straddled by costly regulations. These onerous regulations would treat a simple drainage ditch the same as ‘navigable water’ such as the Mississippi River. These proposed policies are simply bad for all South Carolinians.”
The letter was also signed by governors in Iowa, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, and Kansas, as well as attorneys general in Alabama, Georgia, North Dakota, South Dakota, and West Virginia.
But National Resources Defense Council attorney Jon Devine told The State newspaper that the EPA’s proposal is actually relatively modest. He said the agency is simply trying to restore protections that had already been in place previously.