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New Rules Expanding EPA Clean Water Act Goes Into Effect In Oklahoma

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OKLAHOMA CITY -

New rules expanding the reach of the EPA's Clean Water Act went into effect in Oklahoma Friday, despite strong objections from state leaders and despite a ruling that prevents it from taking effect in other states.

The EPA announced its new Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule in May, attempting to clarify which waters are protected under the CWA. Environmentalists praised the move for its potential to better safeguard bodies of water that, in some cases provide drinking water, but which primarily are used for navigation, recreation and commercial fishing.

Supporters of the rule point to the impact that streams and wetlands can have on the larger bodies of water into which they flow, and say previous rules often left it unclear if those upstream sources fell under CWA regulations.

But critics say this is another brazen example of federal overreach by the Obama Administration, and that the rule will hurt farmers, developers, and landowners, while giving the federal government too much control over local land use.

Opponents say this will slow down development and make it more costly for farmers to do business.

"We could have bureaucrats crawling all over, telling them what they can do, where they're going to have to store their water, their ponds, this type of thing," said outspoken critic, U.S. Senator James Inhofe, R-Oklahoma. "We're doing very well under state regulation."

A district judge in North Dakota did grant an injunction blocking implementation of the new rules, but that only affects the 13 states that were part of that lawsuit.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt did sue the EPA over the rules, but in a separate action.

So, as of Friday, the new rules apply to Oklahoma.

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