Monday, August 18, 2003
Sierra Club ask EPA to take over 303d list in Missouri
The Sierra Club on Friday, August 15, petitioned the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) to take over the listing of impaired waters for the State of Missouri in 2004. The list - also called the "303(d) list" - is to include all waterbodies that do not meet water quality standards for the beneficial uses designated for each waterbody. For example, if a stream in the Ozarks has "beneficial and designated uses" for swimming and smallmouth bass fishing, the stream must meet standards for such uses. In the case of swimming, the presence of bacteria above a certain level would indicate that the stream is "impaired" for this use. In the case of smallmouth bass, the presence of nutrients - which cause algae blooms which in turn rob the stream of oxygen - would lead to a decline of smallmouth bass, and hence cause that stream to be listed as impaired.
"Water quality employees of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources have on three occasions stated that, given the requirements of Missouri law, it will be 'impossible' to meet the federal Clean Water Act requirement that the list of impaired waters be submitted to the US EPA by April 1, 2004, " stated Ken Midkiff, Clean Water Director of the national Sierra Club, "They have stated that the list would be at least one year late. Our calculations are that it would be two years late. Either is a violation of federal law. "The reasons for this 'impossibility' are simple: Missouri legislators passed a bill requiring the 303(d) list be prepared by the Missouri Clean Water Commission as an act of "administrative rulemaking". Given the lengthy procedures, and that rulemaking may be challenged administratively and judicially, we are asking the EPA to take over this requirement of federal law.
"The Missouri General Assembly can pass all the laws it wants to tie the hands of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the Missouri Clean Water Commission, but this does not mean that federal laws can be ignored. We are looking at other states, to see if similar barriers exist. "Determination of impairment is based on scientific data," concluded Midkiff, "Pretending that a problem does not exist does not make it go away. We have no interest in protecting polluters - we want to prevent pollution."