Let's Protect Our Water Instead Of Protecting Polluters

Jun 16, 2021

Credit Gila River

Commentary: U.S. Representative Yvette Herrell argues the Environmental Protection Agency’s unravelling of the Navigable Water Protection Rule is a “Washington-Knows-Best” move. The move is designed to restore federal pollution oversight to U.S. waterways, such as oversight of a massive proposed open-pit copper mine near Tucson.

EPA Administrator Michael Regan has committed the agency to holding public outreach sessions around the country this summer and fall. Does that sound like a “Washington-Knows-Best” approach or “Washington-Wants-to-Hear-From-And-Work-With-You" approach? Regan, the former head of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, has a reputation as a person who works well with all sides. The public outreach sessions will help create rules that are durable, so  the rules won’t be changed every four years when a new administration comes into office. That sounds like openness, dialogue and common sense, not “Washington-Knows-Best.” 

Repealing the Navigable Water Protection Rule isn’t, as Herrell argues, a "direct attack on the private property rights of millions of farmers, ranchers, and homeowners.” Herrell is simply acting as the spokesperson for the oil and gas industry, which doesn’t want to incur the costs of protecting our land, water, and resources from pollution. That’s a “The-Oil-and-Gas-Industry-Knows-Best” argument.  I want to see all parties, environmentalists and the oil and gas and mining industries work together to create a long-lasting agreement about which waterways deserve federal protection from pollution.