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Rep. Southerland, Commissioner Putnam Tout Bill To Block EPA Rules

Congressman Sutherland (R-FL) claims the EPA's proposed rule is federal overreach.
Nick Evans

U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland (R-FL 2) is using the congressional recess to promote a bill he’s sponsored to block an EPA proposal.  Southerland spoke Monday at the Capitol with Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

The proposal in question defines the features of water that could be subject to federal regulation.  Southerland says the change, if adopted, will put almost everything under the purview of the EPA.

“When the EPA proposed an outrageous new rule that would expand its regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act, to include almost any body of water, from puddles to ditches, to pipes, to farmland ponds, I wanted to return to Tallahassee – the heart of our district – to begin our fight anew,” Southerland says.

Currently, the EPA has oversight of navigable waterways like rivers. 

But Florida Agricultural Commissioner Adam Putnam says he worries the proposed rule will extend its jurisdiction to minor water bodies – micromanaging resources the state should control.

“Where this really begins to impact much of the state that’s not accustomed to having to ask Washington for a permit are ponds, ditches, canals, very small water bodies,” Putnam says, “perhaps even streams that only run during the rainy season, then that water eventually finds its way into a navigable water body.”

But the EPA disputes their claims and has launched a website called “Ditch the Myth” in an effort to clear up misconceptions.  The agency says claims it could soon be regulating puddles is “not remotely true,” and streams that only run seasonally are already protected. 

The public comment period for the proposed rule is open until Oct. 20, and comments can be submitted electronically or by mail.

Nick Evans came to Tallahassee to pursue a masters in communications at Florida State University. He graduated in 2014, but not before picking up an internship at WFSU. While he worked on his degree Nick moved from intern, to part-timer, to full-time reporter. Before moving to Tallahassee, Nick lived in and around the San Francisco Bay Area for 15 years. He listens to far too many podcasts and is a die-hard 49ers football fan. When Nick’s not at work he likes to cook, play music and read.