Hello, and thank you to the Idaho County Free Press for coverage [Feb. 12 issue] of Paul Shepherd’s fight with the EPA. First, reporter Andrew Ottoson got most of it right. But, when Andrew claimed Paul Shepherd (and dredgers) want to nullify Congress’ Clean Water Act, he missed the point; he was wrong. Neither Paul nor any dredger wishes to challenge the Clean Water Act, in fact we dredgers support it full heartedly. Any laws voted on by Congress we support! The Clean Water Act (CWA) says you cannot introduce a pollutant into a stream without a “National Pollutant Discharge Permit” (NPDS). This is great… you don’t want raw sewage, or lead, pouring into a river, of course! The problem is EPA and the definitions. EPA has decided dredgers “introduce a pollutant” for example. First, dredgers introduce nothing, we pick it up and put it back and actually remove lead and mercury. Second, EPA says the pollutant “introduced” is sediment (defined by EPA as silt, sand, rocks, gravel). All river users are in jeopardy with this broad definition.
Would you consider walking to the river’s edge with your grandchild and demonstrating how to skip a rock? Think twice before you do…. under the current definition by the EPA, “rocks” are a pollutant and you definitely are “introducing them,” punishable by the EPA rules $37,500/day and three years in jail! That is what Paul Shepherd is fighting.
Go, Paul, go!