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EPA's Waters and Wetlands Maps Released Under Pressure from House Committee

EPA's Waters and Wetlands Maps Released Under Pressure from House Committee

House Science Committee pushes EPA to release maps of waters and wetlands for all 50 states; Groups say they show impact of 'Waters of the U.S.' proposal

House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, has released maps produced by the EPA that detail all the waters and wetlands of each of the 50 U.S. states.

The maps were formerly private, but former EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe agreed to publicly release them following Smith's requests during a hearing earlier this summer, the committee said.

Related: EPA Opens Comments on Waters of the US Language

According to the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, the maps "appear to detail the extent of the 'Waters of the United States' proposal."

House Science Committee pushes EPA to release maps of waters and wetlands for all 50 states; Groups say they show impact of 'Waters of the U.S.' proposal

"These maps show the EPA's plan: to control a huge amount of private property across the country," Smith said in a letter sent this week to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. "Given the astonishing picture they paint, I understand the EPA's desire to minimize the importance of these maps. But the EPA's posturing cannot explain away the alarming content of these documents."

Smith urged McCarthy to release additional information explaining the existence of the maps and why taxpayer money was used to create them, "just days after the EPA announced its Waters of the U.S. rule," a Science Committee statement said.

Related: EPA's McCarthy: Ditch the Myths, Not the Waters of the U.S. Rule

Knowledge of the maps came as the Committee was doing research in preparation for a hearing regarding the proposed WOTUS rule, NCBA said.

"It is deplorable that EPA, which claims to be providing transparency in rulemakings, would intentionally keep from the American public, a taxpayer-funded visual representation of the reach of their proposed rule," Ashley McDonald, NCBA environmental counsel, said in a statement. "Unfortunately, it is just another blatant contradiction to the claims of transparency this Administration insists they maintain."

NCBA said the maps show individual states could face upwards of 100,000 additional stream miles that could be regulated under the proposed rule.

"This is the smoking gun for agriculture," McDonald said. "These maps show that EPA knew exactly what they were doing and knew exactly how expansive their proposal was before they published it."

Related: Senators' Bill Aims to Block EPA Waters of the US Rule

In addition to requests for more information, the Science Committee's letter asks that all documents and communications related to the EPA's contract to create these, and any other previously undisclosed maps in the EPA's possession, be entered into the official rulemaking docket for public review and comment.

The letter requests EPA keep the public comment period open for at least 60 days to provide adequate opportunity review.

The American Farm Bureau Federation is also planning to release its own maps detailing the extent of the WOTUS proposal in September, says American Farm Bureau’s Senior Director of Regulatory Relations Don Parrish.

The EPA maps are available on the House Science Committee website.

For more on the issue, read commentary from attorney and Farm Futures blogger Gary Baise:
Water Police, Part One: EPA Coming to Your Farm?
Water Police, Part Two: EPA Proposal Won't Help Ag
Water Police, Part Three: EPA's Definition of 'Tributary'
Water Police, Part Four: EPA's Definition of 'Adjacent Waters'

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