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Old 03-02-2017, 02:44 PM   #1
B Littleton
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Default Presidential Executive Order on Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic G

I know I've brought this up before, but I'd like to continue the conversation to see what ya'll think now that the full text and intention is clear. The intention to regulate by the Scalia opinion will exclude ephemeral headwater streams and adjacent (not-abutting wetlands). Here are some photo examples (from my work) of the features that will no longer be protected under federal regulation if this executive order's intent is realized...

Cypress Swamp adjacent to, but not directly abutting the Angelina river...

Ephemeral headwater stream in Collin County (1 day after a rain event)...

Headwater wetland that feeds two ephemeral headwater streams in Walker County (These connect to Carolina Creek and then to the Trinity)

Now, I know many of you will reference overreach by the EPA in cases like Andy Johnson's in Wyoming. This is undoubtedly a problem that needs to be corrected. However, this is also a case of not needing to throw the baby out with the bathwater. While individual cases of a landowner impounding an ephemeral or intermittent stream on his property may only have a negligible effect on receiving waters, the cumulative effect (watershed level) of unchecked modification to stream systems is known and well documented. As up-gradient portions of watersheds are developed (e.g. ephemeral streams filled and re-routed, headwater wetlands converted to impervious surface, etc.), down-gradient discharge velocities, sediment load, and volume change substantially. These changes can have significant impacts on processes in receiving waters (e.g. traditionally navigable or relatively permanent waters), often times resulting in loss of property downstream resulting from increased flooding or channel instability causing property (land) to actually fall into the river. Not to mention the significant effects on water quality and wildlife habitat. So, as I've illustrated above, it is not so simple as "it's my land and I should be able to do what I want". If this E.O. is successful in its intent, it will not only result in Joe landowner being able to build a stock pond without a permit (which by the way, there are Agricultural exemptions for this type of activity if you can prove the need), it will result in every land developer out there being able to fill in millions of acres of wetlands and ephemeral streams, resulting in significant economic (flood control infrastructure, bridge and culvert repairs, bank stabilization, etc.) but also ecological problems.

My hope is that the true intent of this order is to begin the discussion of how to appropriately address regulatory uncertainty and establish clearer guideline on what is and is not permissible without a permit and mitigation under the CWA. We shall see.
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Old 03-02-2017, 03:33 PM   #2
Pope & Young
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Let me start here. This is somewhat of a moving target for me at this point. My stance is the TRUTH or CORRECT action is in the middle somewhere. I am not totally sure why this was so important to the administration as it appears (not accusing but being observant) that developers (including Trump himself) were somewhat promoting this change. As someone who owns timberland with a creek less than 1/2 mile off the Sabine I have zero issues with the guidelines now. Also, as a landowner I don't like over reaching governments......local/state/ or federal.
I will say this. The changes will/may "potentially cause more issues" than the discomfort (yes, understanding some is in the millions of dollars) being experienced by a handful individuals throughout the nation. For those in the limbo position it should be a reasonable process to solve conflicts, not add more legislation or in this case another executive action!!!!. Both sides tend to get so entrenched that neither will come up for air to find a workable solution.
Not to geaux off-track but I do have some concerns about this constant mantra about dismantling the EPA. Not sure if that is the BEST idea either. Do I agree with much of there non-sense in the EPA........absolutely NOT, but getting them under control (mission statement, etc) may very well be a better solution. Spending a large portion of my career with a large multi-national chemical company I know first hand the pure pain they can inflict...........but growing up in America's real life cancer alley (Baton Rouge downstream to NOLA) I can easily understand the need for oversight. Again, the truth is somewhere in the middle on these issues for me!!!
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Old 03-02-2017, 03:36 PM   #3
B Littleton
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I moved this thread to a different title when I realized I had put in such a ridiculously long title...

mods, please delete this one.
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