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049399BA62D96B6387258A140074B7FB Hearing Summary


Date Aug 23, 2023      
Location Off-site

Waters of the United States (WOTUS) - Committee Discussion Only

03:15:16 PM  

Alex Funk, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP), introduced his presentation and gave an overview of the importance of streams and wetlands. He discussed how the Clean Water Act is designed to protect water and explained the Section 404 permitting process, which focuses on dredge and fill activities that impact wetlands and streams. He told the committee about the history of rules that have defined Waters of the United States (WOTUS) and how they have varied over the Clean Water Act's history.  

03:21:35 PM  
Mr. Funk discussed
the recent Sackett vs. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) case that
focused on the definition of WOTUS. He told the committee about how the
result of the case changed which wetlands and streams would be protected
by EPA rules.    
03:28:09 PM  

Aaron Citron, The Nature Conservancy, introduced himself and discussed concerns about protecting of the quality of wetlands and streams. He told the committee about the concentration of wetlands in Colorado and the species that rely on the ecosystem services provided by streams and wetlands. He spoke about wetlands that would not be considered jurisdictional under the Clean Water Act as a result of the Sackett v. EPA decision.

03:32:22 PM  
Mayor Jeni Arndt,
City of Fort Collins, told the committee about the impacts of the court's
decision and how the definition of WOTUS has been variable, which creates
uncertainty for where and how waters in Colorado need to be protected.
 She spoke about the potential for Colorado to create its own solution
to address a potential permitting program.
03:36:47 PM  

Breanna González, HECHO, introduced herself and gave an overview of how environmental justice is impacted by the Sackett decision. She spoke about how water quality could impact certain communities in a disproportionate way.

03:42:45 PM  

Mayor Arndt answered a question about permitting and the potential role of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). Mr. Citron answered a question about the percentage of wetlands that would or would not be protected under the Sackett determination. Mr. Funk answered a question about the interim state guidelines that are currently in place.  

03:52:38 PM  
Gabe Racz, Vranesh
and Raisch, spoke to the committee about the rationale of the U.S. Supreme
Court when it was considering what is covered under the Clean Water Act.
He told the committee about the state's current role in water quality,
which does not include a dredge and fill program. He discussed how potential
regulation in this space would affect a large number and variety of individuals.
He told the committee about what a permitting program could look like and
certain requirements that it should include.  
03:59:45 PM  

Damien Schiff, Pacific Legal Foundation, told the committee about what the Sackett decision entails and how states still have the ability to regulate wetlands. He discussed how a regulatory process should be balanced to minimize controversy.  

04:06:31 PM  
Trisha Oeth, CDPHE,
introduced her presentation and discussed the different types of state
waters, which include waters previously protected under the WOTUS rules,
and waters that would be protected under the WOTUS rules after the Sackett
decision. She discussed the current stakeholder engagement that the department
is seeking.  
04:13:30 PM  

Mr. Racz answered a question about what the federal dredge and fill permitting program previously looked like and the time and cost associated with the permitting process.

Director Oeth answered questions about CDPHE's role in a potential permitting process, including possible restrictions on a process timeline, how the significant nexus test may play a role, and how a program may impact conservation.  

The effective date for bills enacted without a safety clause is August 7, 2024, if the General Assembly adjourns sine die on May 8, 2024, unless otherwise specified. Details