New Army Corps/EPA Wetlands Guidance Highlights Need for Congressional Action

December 22, 2008 by  

The guidance released yesterday from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers on wetlands jurisdiction does not address a delayed permitting process, and highlights the need for a legislative solution to the regulatory quagmire that has followed in the wake of the Rapanos v. United States Supreme Court decision, according to Ducks Unlimited. Ducks Unlimited supports proposals in Congress that would clarify and restore protections over isolated wetlands.

“While this new guidance purports to clarify several of the outstanding issues with the earlier guidance, it does not address the permitting delays for landowners and added costs to taxpayers,” said Ducks Unlimited Director of Conservation Operations, Scott Yaich. “The confusion that stemmed from the original guidance and that will continue to hamper landowners and local officials reinforces the need to accomplish protection for the nation’s waters through Congressional action.”

The latest guidance does not clarify protections for geographically isolated wetlands such as prairie potholes and playa lakes.  These areas, which are critical for waterfowl nesting and migration, were covered under the original Clean Water Act of 1972, however later Supreme Court cases and subsequent guidance stripped protections from them.  Most ducks that breed in the United States are reared on isolated wetlands in the Prairie Pothole Region of the northern Great Plains.

“Without clear protections for these areas, many of North America‘s waterfowl populations will be at risk,” said Yaich. “This will also negatively affect the $76 billion that sportsmen contribute to the economy – especially rural economies – every year.”

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