EPA welcomes more comments on water regs

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is again extending the comment period on a controversial rule that would give the agency more authority to regulate water as pressure mounts from the right to scrap the rule altogether.

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With tension surrounding the regulation increasing, the EPA announced Monday in an email to reporters it is extending the comment period for the second time through Nov. 14. The agency previously extended the comment period in June.

In April, the EPA proposed the "waters of the United States" rule, which would clarify the agency's regulations as applying to smaller bodies of water, like streams and rivers, that flow into larger water sources that are already protected.

Green groups say the rule will ensure clean water across the country, but challenges are mounting from business groups and Republicans who call it a power grab by the EPA that would be expensive to comply with.

Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio) called on the EPA to "terminate" the rule on Monday following the agency's latest delay.

"This EPA’s power grab will only hurt businesses around the country and, rather than place burdensome regulations blindly, they should partner with the states to work together just as the Clean Water Act originally intended," Gibbs said in a statement.

The EPA's Scientific Advisory Board is wrapping up a report on the connectivity of small bodies of water such as streams and wetlands, the agency noted, and the EPA wants to give the public more time to comment on the results of the report once it is released.