WASHINGTON DC - Illinois Congressman Randy Hultgren (R) today took the Honorable Robert Perciasepe, Deputy Administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to task for what Hultgren called "his wavering and opaque explanation of the newly-released Clean Water Rule and how it will affect Illinois 14th District constituents."
The exchange occurred during a hearing held by the Science, Space and Technology Committee titled, “Navigating the Clean Water Act: Is Water Wet?”
In a press release from Hultgren's office, the congressman wrote:
After he confirmed with Mr. Perciasepe that the EPA does hold their Scientific Advisory Board in “high esteem,” Rep. Hultgren then pressed him (1:36) to answer why, if science is the backbone of rules that are written by the EPA, there is no scientific justification for what a “shallow subsurface hydrological connection” is, a term that was used nearly 30 times in one five-page section of the rule, and more than 50 times throughout the entire rule. Nor is there an explanation for what depth water below the surface ceases to be shallow subsurface and turns into groundwater.
Shallow subsurface hydrological connections do come under jurisdiction of the draft rule, using suspect definitions for “adjacent waters.” EPA’s Scientific Advisory Board, when reviewing the science the agency used to justify this rule, said there was a lack of research on these connections which “represents an important research need.” Unfortunately, the agency did not wait for this review before issuing their draft rule, nor did they submit the draft for further review by the board before issuing the rule and seeking comment from the public.
Mr. Perciasepe wavered in his answer, holding that groundwater is not included in the rule, but ultimately failed to differentiate between the two. Rep. Hultgren asked: “How can a regular citizen be expected to know whether or not they are digging into something that would be groundwater, which as you say is exempt in the rule, or shallow subsurface water, where the Clean Water Act comes into play?”
Rep. Hultgren concluded: “This is less clear to me than when I walked in here, and it’s probably the same for my constituents…there is already such a lack of clarity in [EPA] rulemaking.”