SIERRA CLUB PRAISES US EPA (For immediate release – May 1, 2003)

In response to the EPA’s release of its findings and proposals regarding the Missouri Clean Water Commission’s submissions on Impaired Waterbodies (sometimes called the "303(d) list"), the Sierra Club praised the EPA’s proposed actions.

The action is not final, but is subject to public review and comment until June 30, 2003. The EPA’s document proposes to:

-Restore all 46 waters removed "without good cause" by the Missouri Clean Water Commission from the 303(d) list.

-Place 13 waters on the list that the Missouri Clean Water Commission had failed to include, even though these waters do not meet water quality standards. NOTE: These waters were part of "26 waters for additional monitoring" included in the 2001 Consent Decree/Court Order – the litigation had been filed by the Sierra Club and the American Canoe Association. This adds over 100 impaired stream miles to the 303(d) list.

-Place 4 waters on the list as Impaired based on information submitted during the comment period of the Missouri Clean Water Commission. The Sierra Club had submitted this information.

-Rejected the Missouri Clean Water Commission’s replacement of "sediments" with "habitat loss". The Sierra Club had objected to this language change – habitat loss is a result of sedimentation.

-Rejected the Missouri Clean Water Commission’s action to remove waters in Categories 2 and 4 because no data was available to show that these waters now meet water quality standards.

-In 1996, the 303(d) list contained 62 waterbodies; the EPA’s proposal for the 2002 303(d) list contains 237 waterbodies.

-Among the 46 waters added back by the EPA were the entire lengths of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. It is estimated that well over 1000 miles of streams were added back after being removed by the Missouri Clean Water Commission.

"An analysis of the EPA’s Support Document on the 2002 Missouri 303(d) list shows that EPA reviewed the scientific and readily available data, and based their proposals on that. We had presented this same information to the Missouri Clean Water Commission, but they used politics instead of science in preparation of their submission," stated Ken Midkiff, Director of the Sierra Club’s Clean Water Campaign.

"We are pleased that EPA rejected this rather blatant political approach, and based their review on water quality or lack thereof," continued Midkiff. "The EPA has recognized that water quality standards are not being met in streams in the state’s major metropolitan areas (St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield, Columbia) and in areas of the state impacted by corporate agribusiness."

"There were two members of the Missouri Clean Water Commission who responded to complaints from the Missouri Farm Bureau and other retrograde industrial groups and politicians under their sway, and removed documentably impaired streams, rivers and lakes. Our goal is to get these cleaned up, not to pretend that no problem exists," concluded Midkiff.

The Sierra Club’s comments to the Missouri Clean Water Commission were prepared by Ken Midkiff and Scott Dye, Director of the Sierra Club’s Water Sentinels Program.

Ken Midkiff – 573-881-0553 Scott Dye – 573-881-1409