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"U.S. EPA says it is not planning to outsource drafting of a regulation to replace the Obama administration's controversial Clean Water Rule. The denial comes on the heels of reports that the agency has been in talks with members of the Waters Advocacy Coalition to have the industry's private-sector attorneys rewrite the rule, which seeks to clarify which wetlands and small waterways fall under Clean Water Act protection. The Waters Advocacy Coalition is an organization of more than 60 industry groups, including the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Mining Association, that seeks to limit federal water regulations. "We are not contracting with an outside firm for WOTUS," EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman wrote in an email, using the acronym for the regulation, which is often referred to as the Waters of the U.S. rule. Asked for clarification on whether she meant EPA was not currently contracting with an outside firm or it had no future plans to do so, Bowman replied, "Both." EPA's response comes the same day Senate Environment and Public Works ranking member Tom Carper (D-Del.) sent a letter to the agency asking that it respond to the reports first published in Politico yesterday morning. In his letter, Carper asked EPA to "in the strongest possible terms disavow this reported industry plan."...Members of the Waters Advocacy Coalition are also disavowing the reports. National Mining Association spokesman Luke Popovich said they are "flatly wrong." "We will not push for it, never did, never would," he said. "Our view is that federal agencies are fully capable of doing this on behalf of the public.""

Posted April 19th, 2017