Letters to the Editor — July 21, 2017
Reader wants Planned Parenthood funded
This bill is the worst bill for women in a generation. In addition to “defunding” Planned Parenthood and slashing Medicaid, it guts essential health benefit protections, including maternity coverage and prescription drugs. Thirteen million women could lose coverage to maternity care under this bill — and over a million patients will instantly lose access to care at Planned Parenthood health centers if this bill were to become law.
Previous opinion piece gets response
I read the Guest Column by Kitty Holtz, “Rescinding WOTUS rule is a step in the right direction,” [July 14, 2017] and was deeply troubled by its inaccuracies. It is true that the rule proposed to be withdrawn has not yet gone into effect, and thus its withdrawal alone will not harm water quality. However, little else was accurate.
The rule was developed over many years with an extensive process involving scientists and input from many sectors. It was developed because the Supreme Court had issued a very divided and confused decision on the definition of “waters of the U.S.” under the Clean Water Act, in which it criticized the Agencies (the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers) for having failed to issue clarifying regulations subsequent to a previous Supreme Court decision.
This rule was an attempt to implement and clarify the non-specific and confusing Supreme Court decisions. The rule was designed to reflect both the environmental reality of the interconnectedness of many water systems, and the need for administrative clarity and certainty. The litigation by all sides reflects that in some ways the definition might expand, but in others it may restrict, the waters regulated under the Clean Water Act. That is, no special interests were totally happy with the rule, because no one side “won.”
Most ongoing farming activities are already exempt from the Clean Water Act. The rule would not change that. The rule would not establish jurisdiction over “low spots on the landscape” that aren’t filled with water at least part of the year. The fact that a waterbody is not wet all the time does not mean it does not significantly impact water quality or serve other vital functions. The wetlands behind my house, on the Rehoboth Bay, are often dry, but with high tides or storms they look like the Bay and not land.
Further, the purpose of withdrawing the rule is to replace it with a much narrower interpretation. It will be difficult to implement that interpretation without causing serious harm to water quality. It is important to note that this regulation defines waters of the United States for all purposes of the Clean Water Act, including discharges from industries. By de-regulating some of those discharges, toxics or other harmful materials can wind up in our water bodies, including our local bays and ocean waters.
Given how dependent the economy of coastal Delaware is on the health of our waters and wetlands, I find it disturbing that the Coastal Point would print this one-sided column without a rebuttal or analysis of its accuracy. The people of coastal Delaware deserve to hear the whole story about this important rule.