MLPA Comments at EPA WOTUS Public Hearing
MISSOURI LIMESTONE PRODUCERS ASSOCIATION
DATE: February 28, 2019
BEFORE: EPA and U.S. Department of Army
Proposed Revised Definition of “Waters of the United States” Public Hearing
BY: Morgan Mundell, Executive Manager
Missouri Limestone Producers Association
Good morning. Members of the committee, my name is Morgan Mundell and I serve as Executive Manager of the Missouri Limestone Producers Association, commonly referred to as the MLPA. The MLPA represents over 200 aggregate operations in the state of Missouri with a total economic impact of over $1 billion dollars. MLPA members provide the foundation for Missouri construction and about one-half of all crushed stone production is used for publicly-funded projects, such as highways, bridges, water/sewer systems, government buildings and airports that serve the general public good.
We support the adoption of the rule changes. The proposed changes bring forth clarity and consistency on WOTUS regulations, which the previous version did not. Missouri aggregate producers deserve clearly written rules that are reasonable and present the ability for the private sector to comply with them without undue cost or time as these factors simply drive up the cost and delay infrastructure projects in the United States.
In past years, the jurisdictional lines of the Clean Water Act and the former proposed WOTUS rule have left the aggregate, agricultural and private sectors in a grey area of not knowing what meets the definition of WOTUS and what does not. This can drive up costs of production, drags out the permitting process and leads to uncertainty in conducting daily operations and production.
One of my members is currently working to expand an operation in Missouri and has been working for years dealing with permitting issues and WOTUS. After doing their own review and interpretation of the hydrology of the land, after having an outside environmental consultant review the planned expansion and giving the company the green light, the federal government ruled that a jurisdictional body of water was present on the property. The water body in question was only present when it rained, and the average individual would certainly not determine that there was a “navigable body of water” or tributary was present on this land. The new rule will help eliminate situations like this and lead to regulatory certainty so that private sector businesses can move forward.
MLPA members were very pleased to see that man-made structures like pits, quarries and water treatment systems are excluded from the new rule. Member companies and their staffs live in the communities where they work, and no one wants to consume dirty, unsafe water in their house and home. We care about the environment and want to be good citizens in our community and a partner with individuals who live in the areas that we serve.
In closing, the proposed rule provides clearer definitions as to what waters should be under federal jurisdiction. The clearer definitions remove the issues associated with the 2015 rule that were vague, not very well defined and would have been left open to interpretation and inconsistency in enforcement. The new rule will provide aggregate producers the opportunity to expand their businesses, continue to serve their communities and provide them with the reassurance that they are in compliance with federal regulations.
Thank you for your time.