EPA’s New Water Protection Rule Opposed by W.Va. Senators


The Environmental Protection Agency has clarified a rule in the Clean Water Act that adds protection for the thousands of miles of streams that feed into West Virginia’s drinking water source. But West Virginia’s U.S. senators are speaking out against it.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finalized the “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule, a measure to define which waterways fall under the jurisdiction of the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers under the Clean Water Act. The agencies say it will make it easier to identify protected waters and will make those protections consistent with the law. But U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., believes the EPA is once again overstepping its boundaries by expanding the definitions of water sources it can regulate.

In a news release, Manchin said he worries that the rule will negatively impact West Virginia’s economy. Sen. Shelly Moore Capito, R-W.Va., echoed Manchin’s concerns in her own news release.

However, West Virginia Rivers Coalition member Angie Rosser said she was disappointed with the response of her political leaders. She said the reaction was short-sighted and that senators need to think more long-term about our water supply.

“We need to use [water] as an economic driver for the state. No one wants to live or work in a state with dirty or unsafe water,” she said.  

In a press release, Rosser pointed out that the EPA collected more than a million comments about the Waters of the United States rule, with 87 percent of the respondents voicing their support for it.

West Virginia’s senators supported legislation introduced in April that would effectively block the new rule.