EPA chief discusses Clean Water Rule with Indiana officials

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency has discussed a federal water rule with Indiana officials, but environmental groups say they weren't included in the conversation.

Scott Pruitt met with Gov. Eric Holcomb, Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch and other state officials this week to discuss the federal Clean Water Rule, The Indianapolis Star reported. Pruitt also met with agriculture and business leaders at Mike Starkey Farms and Liberty Mine in Boonville.

Officials from the Hoosier Environmental Council, the Nature Conservancy's Indiana Chapter, the Sierra Club's Hoosier Chapter, Citizens Action Coalition, Conservation Law Center and the Indiana Water Environmental Association said they weren't informed of Pruitt's visit.

"These discussions should be inclusive with all affected and interested stakeholders at the table—that's the only way to ensure the public interest is being addressed," said Kerwin Olson, director of the Citizens Action Coalition.

The groups said they wished Pruitt had tried to get their viewpoint on the law.

"Apparently, he just came into town and met with the governor and left, but that's about all we know," said Tim Maloney, senior policy director for the Hoosier Environmental Council. "It would be unfortunate if he just came here looking for support for that effort and hearing those viewpoints and not hearing other viewpoints on why the Clean Water Rule is a good one."

The federal rule aims to protect the small tributaries of larger waterways. Some agriculture and business leaders have said it burdens their industries.

"The agriculture industry should not be burdened with unnecessary government overreach," Pruitt said in a statement Wednesday. "By beginning the process to redefine WOTUS (the Waters of the United States rule) we are prioritizing clean water across the country, while also respecting states' traditional regulatory role over their own waters and providing much-needed certainty to farmers and landowners."

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