Lawmakers in Georgia are currently debating the potential impact of environmental rules proposed by federal Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The rules are aimed at allowing the agencies to better enforce the Clean Water Act of 1972, which has the general purpose of controlling pollution and setting water quality standards.
The proposal specifically clarifies that federal regulations under the Clean Water Act apply not only to large bodies of water, but even to streams, swamps and ditch-waters connected to or near navigable waterways.
The concern among some Georgia lawmakers is that the proposed rules could have a serious impact on the state’s economy, particularly on farmers who will have to handle federal permits and rules for tasks as simple as putting up a fence or laying down fertilizer. Environmental advocates and proponents, on the other hand, say that the proposed rules only seek to make existing regulations more clear and that there will not be any changes in practice.
If the proposed regulations do pass, it will be important for affected businesses, farmers and other parties to understand their obligations under the law so as to avoid government penalties. Working with an experienced attorney can be helpful in ensuring compliance with federal environmental regulations, as well as in handling disputes over compliance.
Nothing is set in stone yet with the proposed regulations, but the issue was serious enough that various lawmakers met together to discuss the issue during a very busy time. We’ll keep our readers updated with developments on the issue.
Source: Online Athens, “Georgia lawmakers hear debate over impact of proposed federal environmental rules,” Walter C. Jones, September 27, 2014.