WASHINGTON, DC - U. S. Senator Jim Jeffords, ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, issued the following statement in response to the release of the EPA’s final rule regarding “Amendments to the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Regulations for Stormwater Discharges Associated with Oil and Gas Exploration, Production, Processing, or Treatment Operations, or Transmission Facilities." The rule to implement Section 323 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 incorrectly interprets the 1987 Clean Water Act and Congressional intent. Specifically, it excludes sediment contamination as a factor that may cause a normally exempt activity under oil and gas exploration and production to require a stormwater permit. This rule also contradicts the 17-year-old NPDES regulations on this subject under the guise of Congressional intent in the Energy Policy Act where none exists. “In this era of record profits and skyrocketing gas prices, this Administration again demonstrates their propensity to do the bidding of the oil and gas industry even at the expense of the health and safety of the American people,” said Jeffords. “Rather than simply adopt rules implementing the exemption in the Energy Policy Act, which I opposed, the EPA instead chose to further expand the exemption, removing sediment as a contaminant whose presence would trigger a permit requirement for the industry. In all other facets of the Clean Water Act, sediment is a contaminant. With this rulemaking, EPA has misinterpreted the language of the Clean Water Act as well as Section 323 of the Energy Policy Act to benefit the oil and gas industry.” Please click here to view a previous letter, and related materials, sent by Senators Jeffords, Lautenberg, Boxer, Wyden, Kerry, and Feingold objecting to these exemptions.