Water Committee to Discuss Federal Water Issues - news.mt.gov

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Water Committee to Discuss Federal Water Issues

Friday, August 21, 2015/Categories: Legislative Branch/Tags: Water Policy Interim Committee

For Immediate Release
August 21, 2015
Contact: Jason Mohr, Legislative Research Analyst, 406-444-1640

A recent, contentious federal rule will likely be a focus of September’s meeting of the Water Policy Interim Committee (WPIC).

The WPIC meets Sept. 2-3 in Helena in Room 172 of the Capitol. During the two-day meeting, the committee will hear an update to a final federal rule defining “waters of the United States.”

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a final rule defining the term in May. The rule is effective as of the end of August.

The EPA and Corps have said the rule was necessary to clarify part of the Clean Water Act, which had become difficult to administer due to two U.S. Supreme Court rulings. The new rule may affect certain permitting requirements, while opponents have said the rule is an illegal expansion of federal jurisdiction. Montana Attorney General Tim Fox joined 12 other states recently in suing the federal government over the rule.

The discussion about the “waters of the United States” rule comes as the committee begins its study of how the state might assume the “dredge-and-fill” permitting program from the Corps.

At its September meeting, the committee will also:

• Begin a study regarding the future of the Montana Water Court

• Receive an update on implementation of the State Water Plan

• Receive an update on the legal status of exempt groundwater wells

• Receive a report on future federal ammonia standards for wastewater treatment lagoons

Members of the WPIC include: Chairman Bradley Maxon Hamlett, D-Cascade; Vice-chairman Carl Glimm, R-Kila; Rep. Bob Brown, R-Thompson Falls; Rep. Zach Brown, D-Bozeman; Sen. Jennifer Fielder, R-Thompson Falls; Sen. Chas Vincent, R-Libby; Sen. Sharon Stewart-Peregoy, D-Crow Agency; Rep. Kathleen Williams, D-Bozeman.

For more information on the committee’s activities and upcoming meeting, visit the committee’s website or contact Jason Mohr, committee staff.

Committee Website:  www.leg.mt.gov/water

Committee Staff:  jasonmohr@mt.gov or 406-444-1640

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