WASHINGTON, D.C. — An internal Environmental Protection Agency memo obtained by an environmental group shows that decisions on key provisions of the Clean Water Act are now to be made by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, rather than locally based scientists in the agency’s regional offices.
The group, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, PEER, posted the memo Wednesday. Pruitt, in his directive, dated March 30, cites the need to “restore regulatory certainty” and directs EPA regional offices to cede to him their Clean Water Act determinations related to the preservation of streams, ponds and wetlands. The directive was to take effect immediately.
“With this revised delegation, authority previously delegated to regional administrators to make final determinations of geographic jurisdiction shall be retained by the Administrator,” according to the memo. “As part of effectuating this revision, I ask that you involve the Administrator’s Office early on in the process of developing geographic determinations”
PEER said the directive imposes a one-size-fits-all scenario in which regional differences in wetlands, wildlife, precipitation and other variations are not recognized. It also removes any role by EPA regional offices to “veto” an Army Corps of Engineers dredge and fill permit.