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Memo: Comments of the NC Department of Environmental Quality and the NC Office of the Attorney General on Proposed Revised Waters of the United States (“WOTUS”) Rule

Raleigh

Memo

To: Interested Parties
From: Sharon Martin, Public Information Officer
Date: Monday, April 15, 2019
RE: Comments of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality and the North Carolina Office of the Attorney General
   on Proposed Revised Waters of the United States(“WOTUS”) Rule

Today, N.C. Department of Environmental Quality and N.C. Attorney General submitted comments on behalf of North Carolina in opposition to the draft Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

To read the full comment filed today on the proposed WOTUS rule click here:

https://deq.nc.gov/WOTUScomments04152019

The comments note that some wetlands protections would be rolled back if the rule were approved. Wetlands cover an estimated 5.7 million acres (8,906 square miles) of North Carolina, or 17% of the land area of the state.

The changes fail to protect waters that are crucial to restoring and maintaining the chemical, physical and biological integrity of our state’s waters.

The comments advocate for a science-based approach to defining WOTUS that preserves features essential for water quality while providing clarity to the regulated community. Among the challenges posed by the proposed federal WOTUS rule under consideration are:

  • Increased flooding risks in low-lying areas as nearly 95% of all wetlands in North Carolina are located in the Eastern portion of our state.
  • Negative impacts on the “filter” functions wetlands play for our water supply and increase stormwater runoff.
  • Economic concerns regarding certainty for farmers and developers employing responsible environmental practices around the state’s wetlands.
  • Negative impacts on distinct species dependent upon wetlands.
  • Threats to the recreational and commercial fishing industries’ products like shellfish, blue crabs, fish and shrimp.
  • A drastic decrease in federal wetland protections creating a huge regulatory gap that would need to be filled by new rules, laws and personnel to protect wetlands.
  • An increased burden on underfunded, understaffed regulatory agencies that work in partnership with the federal government to protect wetlands nation-wide.

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