EPA proposes major steps to protect Minnesota waters

By KBJR News 1

Credit: Krista Burns

EPA proposes major steps to protect Minnesota waters

March 25, 2014 Updated Mar 25, 2014 at 12:48 PM CDT

St. Paul, Minn. (NNCNOW.com) - For the first time in more than a decade, the Environment Protection Agency has announced a major step in the protection of Minnesota waterways.

The agency proposed a rule designed to close loopholes in the Clean Water Act that leaves 51% of Minnesota's streams, and millions of acres of wetlands, at risk of unchecked pollution and development.

The move comes after a decade of uncertainty over the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act, following polluter-led Supreme Court challenges in 2001 and 2006.

Last fall, the EPA released a draft science report on the connection between smaller streams and wetlands and downstream waters, which makes the scientific case for the rulemaking.

Members of the public submitted more than 150,000 public comments in support of the report's findings that these waterways merit protection under the law.

The EPA, along with Environment Minnesota, a citizen-based environmental advocacy organization, will hold a series of events to drive home their initiative to protect the state's streams and millions of acres of wetlands.