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ESA and CWA need changes
Herald and News Letter to the Editor March 29, 2012 by Gail Whitsett, Klamath County. Editor’s note: Gail Whitsett is a candidate for state representative, District 56.
A March 2012 ruling by the U.S. District Court of Oregon has the potential to profoundly influence our state’s farming, forestry, grazing and related practices on private, state and federal ground.
The court invalidated the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to approve Oregon’s accepted water quality standards as set forth under the Clean Water Act. This ruling will force even tougher compliance with often unachievable TMDL’s to protect fish.
Oregon will be required to revise its watershed protection plans and implement new pollution control regulations on nonpoint sources, such as agricultural, forested or urban lands.
Municipalities (like the city of Klamath Falls or Lakeview) will be required to reduce the amount of heat that their industrial wastewater discharge permits now allow. With inherently high Upper Klamath Lake water temperatures, this portends huge problems for any municipal or industrial water user with or without already set point source temperature standards.
The city and south suburban sewer systems, several of our local schools, lumber products companies, farmers, ranchers or any other business using water may find itself with substantially higher water use fees in the future to meet these unattainable standards.
The suit was brought by the Northwest Environmental Advocates against the EPA to invalidate Oregon’s Natural Conditions Criteria for temperature to protect fish. We again find ourselves at the mercy of extremist groups and judicial activist judges who are effectively destroying Oregon’s private property, businesses, farms and forestry industries.
Like the spotted owl fiasco, where after 25 years and hundreds of thousands of acres of pine bark beetle blighted forestland, we discover that the “science” behind these environmental decisions is flawed if not outright false.
When will our U.S. Congress take the needed action to modify the ESA and the CWA to meet reality?
Gail Whitsett
Klamath County




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