WASHINGTON, DC - Senators Jeffords, Lautenberg, Boxer, Wyden, Kerry, and Feingold today sent the following letter (and attachments) to EPA Administrator Johnson, questioning the rationale and the role of industry influence behind a proposed rule granting relief to the oil and gas industry from Clean Water Act’s stormwater regulations. On January 6, 2006, the EPA proposed “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." This proposed rule purports to implement Section 323 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which added a new paragraph to Section 502 of the Clean Water Act to define the term “oil and gas exploration, production, processing, or treatment, or transmission facilities.” The proposed rule 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 proposal contradicts the 17-year-old NPDES regulations on this subject under the guise of Congressional intent where none exists. The letter questions the Agency's justification for this action, which the rulemaking docket demonstrates was not included in EPA's original proposal but was added by the Office of Management and Budget. In addition, the letter questions the effect of correspondence between Karl Rove and the EPA, included in the EPA docket for this rulemaking, on previous EPA actions to postpone the effective date of stormwater regulations for the oil and gas industry. Click here for a copy of the letter. Click here to view attachments to the letter.