April 15, 2019

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
EPA Docket Center, Office of Water Docket\Mail Code 28221T
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20460

Submitted online at regulations.gov

Re: Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2018-0149

To Whom It May Concern:

The Resource Development Council for Alaska, Inc. (RDC) is writing to comment on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) revised definition of “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) 84 Fed. Reg. 4154 (Feb. 14, 2019).  

RDC is an Alaskan business association comprised of individuals and companies from Alaska’s oil and gas, mining, forest products, tourism and fisheries industries. RDC’s membership includes Alaska Native Corporations, local communities, organized labor, and industry support firms. RDC’s purpose is to encourage a strong, diversified private sector in Alaska and expand the state’s economic base through the responsible development of our natural resources.

RDC has long urged the EPA and Corps to withdraw, rescind or clarify the proposed rule for Waters of the United States (WOTUS). This new approach recognizes and preserves the primary responsibility of the states to manage their water resources, consistent with the Congressional intent of the CWA.

It is clear the EPA and Corps’ proposed rule is intended to increase CWA program predictability and consistency by increasing clarity as to the scope of WOTUS. This proposed definition revision will also implement the overall objective of the CWA to restore and maintain the quality of the nation's waters while respecting State and tribal authority over their own land and water resources.

Alaska contains approximately 174 million acres of wetlands (65% of the nation’s total), with nearly 80% of the state underlain in permafrost. Alaska has 63% of the nation’s jurisdictional waters and is one-fifth of the U.S. land mass. RDC is further concerned the previous rule would result in disproportionate impacts to Alaska, and we have urged the agencies to address the flawed economic analysis described in it. RDC’s members, from oil and gas, to maritime, Alaska Native corporations, and rural communities, would be unreasonably burdened by the rule.

Alaska and other states should have the authority to develop land use practices and protections, not the federal government. RDC has previously provided comments on WOTUS in 2014, 2017, and again last year. 

The proposal is a step in the right direction to correct the regulatory overreach of the old rule and provide clarity, while continuing to protect federal waters. Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this important issue.

Sincerely,

RDC