The Earth is often called the “blue planet” because water covers nearly three-quarters of its surface area. And even more water resources are stored beneath the crust. Consequently, it is easy to take water for granted, but manufacturers understand the importance of responsibly managing water resources and have been working to protect clean water for decades. That’s why we have been asking for a clear rule from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that empowers everyone to join in protecting our waters. Today’s proposal is a critical step toward fixing our nation’s water policy.
Manufacturers have demonstrated leadership by not only minimizing the environmental impacts to water supplies but also helping to ensure adequate water supplies through conservation efforts. But at the same time, the management of water resources has been fraught with conflict. U.S. federal government regulators have abused their power to regulate navigable waters and usurped the role of local communities and individual property owners. While these abusive policies have often been stopped by federal courts, the lack of fair rules creates even more uncertainty for manufacturers. Although Congress intended the Clean Water Act to protect “the primary responsibilities and rights of states to prevent, reduce and eliminate pollution,” the federal government has disrupted this local-first approach and exceeded constitutional limits.
Since manufacturers rely on water for everything from growing agricultural inputs to engineering green chemistry and providing renewable power—smart water policy is critical. Conflicts over the allocation of water resources leaves manufacturers caught between contentious federal versus state or state versus state battles. This makes it difficult and at times impossible for manufacturers to plan for day-to-day activities and make long-term investment decisions.
Furthermore, regulatory uncertainty and prolonged conflicts undermine access to justice, weaken individual property rights and fail to protect critical water resources. Given the importance of water resources, manufacturers need local, state and federal water policies of cooperation rather than conflict to achieve greater transparency, adaptation and continued ecological restoration. Policies that respect individual property rights take a multisectoral approach and drive technology solutions and innovation work to strengthen our stewardship of water resources.
Manufacturers have asked the EPA for a clear rule protecting our nation’s waterways for decades. Our country can’t protect its waters without a clear rule that gives everyone a fair chance. So today’s action is welcome news. It is an important step in process of creating commonsense policy, but there’s more work to do. Manufacturers will continue to advocate a new rule that conforms to the Clean Water Act, protects our nation’s waters and provides clarity for manufacturers and landowners around the country. This will take time and cooperation, but our blue planet deserves nothing less.
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