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APGA comments on Waters of the United States

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

On 11 November, the American Public Gas Association (APGA) submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corp Engineers on their notice of proposed rule revising the definition of ‘Waters of the United States’ (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act (CWA).

APGA’s concern with the proposed rule is that it has not been adequately studies and appears to broaden the agencies’ reach under the CWA. The broadening of the areas where a CWA permit may be required will only increase regulatory uncertainty for APGA members.

APGA’s position in this debate is that the effort of the agencies to extend their CWA jurisdiction, if implemented, would raise safety concerns as related to the ongoing operation and maintenance of natural gas distribution systems and would inflict an unnecessary and unwarranted financial burden in APGA’s members and their customers. Due to the nature of the public natural gas business, timely review and issuance of permits are not only critical to maintain safety but are also critical for maintaining a reliable and resilient system.

With the potential increase in the number of geographical features that would have to undergo a review and likely additional permitting, APGA’s members are concerned with the impact that the increased workload would have on agencies with respect to both the quickness of the review process and the quality of the review. These water features have traditionally been regulated at the local level.

APGA members spend a significant amount of time and resources replacing and servicing their systems, such as updating cast iron gas mains and older steel gas mains and services. This work is for the safety of their residents, as well as to satisfy federal and state regulations in which the goal is public safety. Delaying pipe replacements for months or years would negatively impact the safety of natural gas system consumers, with any offsetting benefits to the environment being either negligible or non-existent.

Adapted from a press release by Emma McAleavey

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