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EPA moves to repeal Obama’s Clean Power Plan coal regs

Clean Water ACT - EPA, Federal gov & land grabs

PNP comment: Hooray !!! America can get back to work! — Editor Liz Bowen

Fox News.com

October 9, 2017

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced Monday that the Trump administration is moving to scrap the Clean Power Plan, the Obama administration’s signature regulatory program to curb emissions from coal-fired power plants.

Pruitt made the announcement at an event in Hazard, Ky., casting the previous policy as unfair.

“That rule really was about picking winners and losers,” Pruitt said. “The past administration was unapologetic, they were using every bit of power, authority to use the EPA to pick winners and losers on how we pick electricity in this country. That is wrong.”


In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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Toxic waste from U.S. pot farms alarms experts

Clean Water ACT - EPA, Marijuana


By Sharon Bernstein

August 7, 2017

Video by Wochit News

Pollution from illegal marijuana farms deep in California’s national forests is far worse than previously thought, and has turned thousands of acres into waste dumps so toxic that simply touching plants has landed law enforcement officers in the hospital.

The volume of banned or restricted pesticides and illegally applied fertilizers in the woods dwarfs estimates by the U.S. Forest Service in 2014, when a top enforcement official testified that the pollution was threatening forest land in California and other states.

California accounts for more than 90 percent of illegal U.S. marijuana farming, with much of it exported to other states from thousands of sites hidden deep inside forested federal land, and more on private property, law enforcement officials said. The state is still developing a licensing system for growers even though legal retail sales of the drug will begin next year, and medical use has been allowed for decades.

Ecologist Mourad Gabriel, who documents the issue for the Forest Service as well as other state, local and federal law enforcement agencies, estimates California’s forests hold 41 times more solid fertilizers and 80 times more liquid pesticides than Forest Service investigators found in 2013.

Growers use fertilizers and pesticides long restricted or banned in the United States, including carbofuran and zinc phosphide. In previous years, it was commonly sold fertilizers and pesticides that were used illegally, law enforcement officials said.

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EPA chief to reconsider paying claims over mine waste spill

Clean Water ACT - EPA
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EPA administrator in Utah to get input on water rule, other regulations

Clean Water ACT - EPA

Deseret  News


SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s conservative political leaders, farmers and ranchers are hopeful a Tuesday roundtable discussion with the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will result in a drastic overhaul of a controversial water regulation that critics say goes too far.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is visiting Utah as part of multistate tour to get input on how the federal agency can be more responsive to states’ needs in general and in specific how the Waters of the United States rule should be retooled.

Pruitt is acting under the direction of an executive order issued in February by President Donald Trump that called for a rollback of the so-called “WOTUS” rule, which inspired a firestorm of controversy when it was adopted in 2015.

Although celebrated by sportsmen’s groups and environmental organizations as the most comprehensive and significant overhaul of the Clean Water Act in more than 40 years, the rule raised the ire of some states, farmers, ranchers and industry due to its scope and ambiguity.

At the time of its adoption, federal regulators insisted the rule only clarified protections for seasonal waterways that are critical to downstream communities. The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers contended the rule did not expand the scope of jurisdictional oversight — an assertion hotly contested by the National Association of Counties, which argued even ditch maintenance projects would require a Corps section 404 permit.

In late June, Pruitt initiated a proposed rule to repeal the Waters of the United States rule and later invited states to offer their input.

As the former Oklahoma attorney general, Pruitt has also recused himself from any legal cases involving the rule.

Additional information will be posted throughout the day.


In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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EPA Poised to Undo Obama’s Federal Power Grab

Clean Water ACT - EPA, Water rights, Water, Resources & Quality

A highly controversial rule from the Obama administration may finally be on its way out.

On Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it is going to put an end to the Obama administration’s federal power grab known as the “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule.

Specifically, the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers are proposing to rescind the rule and, for the interim until a new rule is developed, recodify the regulations prior to the WOTUS rule.

The Trump administration should be commended for taking this critical action. The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers, through the Clean Water Act, were seeking to regulate almost every water imaginable.

For example, under the rule, federal agencies could have regulated certain man-made ditches and even dry land that may hold some water only a few days of the year after major rains.

The rule was so broad and subjective, property owners would have had a very difficult time even knowing what was subject to regulation. For that matter, the level of subjectivity was so great that even government officials enforcing the rule wouldn’t have been able to agree on whether specific waters could be regulated.

By trying to regulate almost every water, the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers would have been forcing property owners to secure far more permits, including for normal activities such as farming.

The EPA and Army Corps now appear to recognize that protecting the environment doesn’t have to come at the expense of property rights and the rule of law. Critics will inevitably use scare tactics to say that getting rid of the WOTUS rule will harm the environment. The opposite is the case.

Getting rid of the rule now allows both the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to develop a new rule that is both clear and objective.

This will help property owners and improve compliance—and it will help the EPA and the Army Corps by providing them clarity and direction in their enforcement of the law. It will also, if properly drafted, allow states to play the primary role that was envisioned under the Clean Water Act, which explicitly recognized “the primary responsibilities and rights of states to prevent, reduce, and eliminate pollution.”

This is likely to provide greater environmental protection, since states are in a far better position to identify and address the unique environmental needs of their waters than the federal government.

The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers’ new rule will hopefully properly define “waters of the United States.” For now, though, rescinding the WOTUS rule is the necessary start to that process.


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EPA moves to kill Waters of the U.S. rule

Clean Water ACT - EPA

The Washington Times –

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Trump administration on Tuesday began the process of formally rescinding the highly controversial “Waters of the U.S.” rule, an Obama-era regulation that gave Washington broad powers over streams and other small bodies of water across the country.

The rule, put forth in 2015 but subsequently stayed by the Supreme Court before going into effect, was one of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s top targets when he took the helm at the agency. President Trump earlier this year signed an executive order directing Mr. Pruitt to review the rule, and with Tuesday’s action, the EPA says it’s finalized that review and will move to permanently strike the regulation from the books.

“We are taking significant action to return power to the states and provide regulatory certainty to our nation’s farmers and businesses,” Mr. Pruitt said in a statement. “This is the first step in the two-step process to redefine ‘waters of the U.S.’ and we are committed to moving through this re-evaluation to quickly provide regulatory certainty, in a way that is thoughtful, transparent and collaborative with other agencies and the public.”

The action would return EPA authority over waterways to where it stood prior to the Waters of the U.S. rule. Under the Clean Water Act, the agency has jurisdiction over “navigable” waters.

Supporters of the rule have said that definition wasn’t specific enough, and allowed for pollution to run from streams and other small waters into larger bodies that supply drinking water.

But critics, including agriculture, business, and virtually all conservatives Washington and across the country, said the regulation was yet another power grab by the EPA.



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Farmer Faces $2.8 Million Fine for… Plowing His Field!

Agriculture - California, Clean Water ACT - EPA, Federal gov & land grabs, Over-regulations

Freedom Outpost.com

Tim Brown

A California farmer is facing $2.8 million in fines for plowing his field and planting wheat without a permit.

John Duarte of Duarte Nursery is David going up against Goliath, just like ranchers, farmers and natural health product makers.  His case could set a dangerous precedent that would require farmers to obtain expensive and time-consuming permits from the US Army of Corps Engineers before planting crops.

“The case is the first time that we’re aware of that says you need to get a (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) permit to plow to grow crops,” said Anthony Francois, a lawyer for the Pacific Legal Foundation. “We’re not going to produce much food under those kinds of regulations.”

However, U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller sided with the Army Corps last June, in which the US Attorney’s Office is asking for $2.8 million in civil penalties.

Why?  Who was harmed?  What real and actual crime took place?

USA Today has the background of the story that began in 2012 when Mr. Duarte planted wheat on land that he bought with his own money, some 450 acres.

Because the property has numerous swales and wetlands, Duarte hired a consulting firm to map out areas on the property that were not to be plowed because they were part of the drainage for Coyote and Oat creeks and were considered “waters of the United States.”Francois conceded that some of the wetlands were plowed but not significantly damaged. He said the ground was plowed to a depth of 4 to 7 inches.

The Army Corps did not claim Duarte violated the Endangered Species Act by destroying fairy shrimp or their habitat, Francois said.

This particular freshwater species is unique to California and southern Oregon and has been classified as a threatened species since 1994 because much of its wetlands in California’s Central Valley were converted to cropland or became urban.

Duarte’s wheat was planted but not harvested because in February 2013 the Army Corps of Engineers and the California Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board issued orders to stop work at the site. The agencies claimed Duarte had violated the Clean Water Act by not obtaining a permit to discharge dredged or fill material into seasonal wetlands considered waters of the United States.

Duarte sued the Army Corps and the state, alleging they violated his constitutional right of due process by issuing the cease and desist orders without a hearing. The U.S. Attorney’s Office counter-sued Duarte Nursery to enforce the Clean Water Act violation.

Farmers plowing their fields are specifically exempt from the Clean Water Act rules forbidding discharging material into U.S. waters, Francois said.

The government claims that Duarte did not plow but rather used a ripper, which dug 10 inches into the soil and they allege that it disturbed portions of the property that included wetland areas.

“Even under the farming exemption, a discharge of dredged or fill material incidental to the farming activities that impairs the flow of the waters of the United States still requires a permit because it changes the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the waters,” the U.S. attorney said in court filings.

Francois claims the penalties are unfair because his client believed the plowing exemption allowed him to till the soil.

“A plain reading of the rules says you don’t need a permit to do what he did,” Francois said. “How do you impose a multimillion penalty on someone for thinking the law says what it says?”

Indeed, but even more to the point, what business does the government have telling a man whether or not he can plow or not on his own land?  This is not about wetlands and animals or rivers.  This is about controlling people and their property.  I wish people would wake up to what is taking place in this country with regards to central government controlling land and imposing heavy regulations on private property.

Farmer Faces $2.8 Million Fine for… Plowing His Field!


In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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Hearing lambasts “sue and settle” agreements

Agriculture, Clean Water ACT - EPA, Lawsuits

Western Livestock Journal

wlj, 06-05-2017 » Page 1

Hearing lambasts “sue and settle” agreements

— Cost to taxpayers staggering

Cozy consent decrees between environmental groups and agencies could become a thing of the past if a recent hearing on Capitol Hill is any indication. On May 24, a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee hearing examined abusive “sue and settle” tactics, their effects, and how to put a stop to them.

There to explain “sue and settle” to the committee were several witnesses from the private sector, including an Idaho rancher; a Colorado property rights attorney; an environmental attorney; and a representative of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, William Kovacs.

The “sue and settle” phenomenon happens under the “citizen suit” provisions of environmental laws such as the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Environmental groups sue agencies, usually on procedural errors such as missed deadlines. Often, the agencies then voluntarily agree to consent decrees instead of going to trial.

Those settlements can result in new federal regulations that lack public vetting and analysis, because they often include abbreviated deadlines for agency decisions, Kovacs said. They can also result in the denial of federal permits or the imposition of permit conditions on private parties such as ranchers. They can bind an agency to future actions, and sometimes even bind future administrations.

The only parties than can enforce a consent decree are the interest group, the agency, or the court, Kovacs explained. The public is completely left out of the process. Even parties that intervene to defend against environmental groups are most often left out of the settlement.

Cozy—and costly

Furthermore, there doesn’t always appear to be an adversarial relationship between the interest groups and the agencies, Kovacs argued. For example, he said between 2009 and 2012 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chose not to defend itself in over 60 Clean Air Act lawsuits from advocacy groups. These cases resulted in settlement agreements—and EPA ultimately published more than 100 new regulations.

The cost to Americans is staggering. According to a 2013 Chamber report, the 10 most costly regulations from sue-and-settle agreements (all EPA water and air regulations) cost the economy in excess of $100 billion annually. Kovacs noted that, between 2013 and 2016, settlements and new regulations only increased.

Setting the agenda Ironically, the shorter deadlines imposed by consent decrees are usually the result of deadlines already missed by the agency, Kovacs said.

“Here’s how the problem starts,” Kovacs explained. “An agency like the EPA misses somewhere between 84 percent and 96 percent of its deadlines. And once a deadline is missed, the interest group can sue the agency.”

And since EPA misses virtually all of its deadlines, he went on to say interest groups can cherry-pick which rules out of hundreds of rules they want to advance. “It’s through this selection process that the interest groups establish the priorities of the agency,” he said.

Creating log-jams

Another witness at the hearing, Colorado attorney Kent Holsinger, also pointed out how environmental groups are sometimes creating the very “log-jams” that open the door for litigation. For example, by petitioning to list hundreds of species at a time under the ESA, certain groups have made it impossible for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to meet its ESA-imposed deadlines. The groups then litigate those missed deadlines, forcing the agency to divert resources into the courtroom and miss even more deadlines.

The staggering number of ESA lawsuits brought by a few environmental groups over the years finally resulted in the infamous 2011 “mega-settlements” that gave USFWS shortened deadlines on over 1,000 species listing decisions. The result, Holsinger said, has been numerous listings and critical habitat designations that haven’t been properly analyzed by the agency or vetted by the public.

Ranching in the crosshairs

Witness Darcy Helmick, an Idaho rancher and representative of Simplot Land & Livestock, gave several examples of how interest groups use missed agency deadlines and settlements to target the livestock industry. In one case on Idaho’s Jarbidge Resource Area, managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), anti-grazing litigators had sued to prevent BLM from renewing a large number of grazing permits. That lawsuit resulted in a settlement agreement wherein BLM was to perform environmental reviews within a certain timeline before renewing the permits.

But then the special interest group sued BLM again on a separate matter, making it impossible for the field office to accomplish its environmental reviews in time. Over 2,000 pairs of cattle had to be removed for over 80 days until a judge issued an order allowing them back on.

Taxpayers funding the problem

Several of the witnesses noted that interest groups are benefiting nicely from attorney fees awarded in settlement agreements. Holsinger pointed to a 2012 House Committee on Natural Resources investigation that showed that, between 2008 and 2012, the federal government paid more than $15 million in attorney fees on ESA-related lawsuits alone.

“Unfortunately,” Holsinger noted, “the true cost of ‘sue and settle’ is impossible to ascertain as neither the agencies nor the Department of Justice seem to keep track.”

Holsinger also pointed out that many of the groups that use “sue and settle” receive extensive government grants. For example, WildEarth Guardians, one of the groups party to the 2011 ESA mega-settlements, received $800,104 in government grants—just in 2016.

Legislation needed

Though things could be different under the Trump administration (EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt stated in March 2017 that the EPA intended to end the practice of ‘sue and settle’), the problem reaches beyond the EPA and beyond this administration, the witnesses noted.

“Legislation is needed, because the [sue and settle] practice can be repetitive in the future,” said Kovacs.

One bill, H.R. 1525, the Stop Taxpayer Funded Settlements Act, would prevent attorney fees from being awarded in settlements regarding the Clean Air Act, the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, or the ESA.

Several witnesses also pointed to H.R. 469, the Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act of 2017 (Senate companion bill S. 119). The bill would require the defending agency to provide a 60-day notice to the public on consent decrees so the public can provide comments. The agency would then be required to provide a summary of those comments to the court for review. Additionally, interested parties such as ranchers would be granted the right to intervene and participate in the consent decree if they could establish their rights weren’t being adequately protected by the defending agency.

“We are not trying to change any of the law in terms of how the process goes or the discretion of the agencies,” said Kovacs. “What we’re trying to do with H.R. 469 is bring transparency to the process.”— Theodora Johnson, WLJ correspondent

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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Liberal News Publishes SUPPORT of Joe Robertson

Clean Water ACT - EPA, CORRUPTION, Courts, CRIMINAL, Federal gov & land grabs, PRES. TRUMP, President Trump and officials

Redoubt News.com

A section of the president’s executive order instructed the EPA administrator and the attorney general to review all pending litigation under the WOTUS rules.

Trump should rescue 78-year-old Navy veteran that Obama put behind bars


(The Hill) – In February, President Trump signed an executive order revoking the notorious, unconstitutional expansion of the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority, otherwise known as the “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rules promulgated under President Obama in August 2015. Those rules interpreted the Clean Water Act to give the agency authority to regulate every puddle of water on every farm or ranch anywhere if that puddle had even the remotest, most minuscule “nexus” with any “navigable waterway,” no matter how minimal that possible runoff may be or how far away that potentially navigable stream might be.

A section of the president’s executive order instructed the EPA administrator and the attorney general to review all pending litigation under the WOTUS rules.

Unfortunately, that action can have no effect on Clean Water Act cases already prosecuted by the EPA, such as what happened to Joe Robertson in federal district court in Montana. Robertson was prosecuted and convicted of violating the Clean Water Act as interpreted by the EPA, the Army Corps of Engineers and an Obama-appointed U.S. attorney. Robertson is now halfway through an 18-month sentence in a federal facility in Lakewood, Colo. (The facility is located about five miles from my home, but I am unable to visit him because prison rules bar Robertson from having visitors he did not know before his conviction.)

Western rancher and 78-year-old Navy veteran Joseph David Robertson’s modest 200-acre ranch is located in the mountains behind Basin, Mont., off Interstate 15 between Butte and Boulder. The property is 60 miles from the Jefferson River, the nearest river that might be considered a “navigable waterway” under a generous definition of the term. Nevertheless, the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers claimed he had polluted the waterway by dredging and constructing a couple of ponds near his home to be used mainly for local firefighting.

Those EPA “WOTUS” rules were controversial from the beginning when published in draft in 2014. Thirty-one states sued to block the rules when first proposed, and 13 states later tried to persuade the EPA to delay the final rule’s implementation in August 2015. Pacific Legal Foundation attorneys Todd Gaziano and M. Reed Hopper called the rules “more EPA Overreach” in an Aug. 3, 2015, Forbes report on the egregious federal power grab.

In June of 2015, the Nebraska attorney general put the matter in constitutional perspective, saying, “The EPA has redefined ‘waters of the U.S.’ in order to gain greater authority and power over private land.” Regrettably, the EPA proceeded to implement its notorious rules and then prosecuted landowners who ran afoul of the agency’s expansive interpretation of threats to clean water.

The EPA’s first effort at punishing Robertson ended in a hung jury, so Obama’s federal prosecutor moved the case to Missoula to get a conviction. Robertson had only an appointed public defender, who Robertson asserts provided an ineffective legal representation. For example, an independent expert analysis of the water runoff question done gratis by a retired EPA employee was barred from consideration as part of his sentencing report.

Robertson is attempting to appeal his conviction, but he is in poor health and his 18-month sentence likely would be completed before any appeal can be adjudicated. He may not survive long enough to see a higher federal court repudiate his unjust prosecution under an unconstitutional regulatory edict.

The decent and appropriate resolution for Joe Robertson’s unjust imprisonment caused by EPA arrogance is an immediate presidential commutation of his sentence to time served. He deserves a full pardon and an apology, but a commutation will at least give him his freedom.

I am writing to Attorney General Jeff Sessions to request an expedited review of the case and timely action to recommend a commutation by President Trump. I hope others will join me in seeking some small token of justice for Joe Robertson.

Tom Tancredo represented Colorado’s 6th Congressional District from 1999 to 2009.

Liberal News Publishes SUPPORT of Joe Robertson


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Reversing Obama, Trump EPA reaches deal with Pebble Mine developer

Clean Water ACT - EPA, Federal gov & land grabs, GOLD


May 12, 2017


WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency has settled an ongoing lawsuit with the Pebble Limited Partnership and says the company can apply for a federal permit for its proposed massive gold and copper mine in the Bristol Bay watershed.

Friday’s announcement reverses the Obama administration’s efforts to prevent progress of the world’s largest undeveloped trove of gold and copper. The settlement ends several legal battles ongoing since the EPA issued a proposed determination in 2014 that would have put the area off-limits for a federal mining permit.

Salmon fishermen, Alaska Native organizations in the Bristol Bay region and environmental groups have been fighting the proposed gold, copper and molybdenum mine for more than a decade, saying it imperils the world’s largest salmon run, a significant source of income for Alaskans. The groups said they were dismayed by the Trump administration’s decision.

Mining advocates say the gold alone is worth more than $300 billion, and that the federal government should allow the process to advance without early intervention from the EPA. Mine companies have already spent roughly $800 million on the project.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said early Friday that the agency is committed to allowing the process to move forward, but isn’t prejudging the outcome.

“We understand how much the community cares about this issue, with passionate advocates on all sides,” Pruitt said. “The agreement will not guarantee or prejudge a particular outcome, but will provide Pebble a fair process for their permit application and help steer EPA away from costly and time-consuming litigation. We are committed to listening to all voices as this process unfolds.”

The new approach promised by the Trump administration offers significant hope for the Pebble Mine purveyors, but the process ahead will take years. Depending on the timing of the permit application, federal review and public input, the ultimate decision could easily sit with a new administration if President Donald Trump is not reelected in 2020.

The Pebble Limited Partnership plans to recast its plans, focusing on a smaller mine footprint, requiring new field data and infrastructure plans. And the company needs new investors, a process which could slow plans to apply for a permit by years. Funding partners for parent-company Northern Dynasty Minerals pulled out out of the project in 2013.

Ron Thiessen, president of Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd., the sole current owner of the Pebble Limited Partnership, said the mine company is now planning a “smaller project design at Pebble than previously considered, and one that incorporates significant environmental safeguards.”



In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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