Wetland protection

Published: Friday 15 September 2000

the Clinton administration has proposed new rules to protect environmentally sensitive wetlands from rash development. The new rules, to be implemented after a 60-day period of public comment, would make the present regulations more comprehensive regarding what kind of wetlands development requires an environmental impact review by the government.

The rules, issued by the Environmental Protection Agency ( epa ) and the Army Corps of Engineers, are part of the administration's effort to fight a court decision, which stipulated that developers do not require a federal permit to excavate, drain or ditch a wetland as long as they did not dump soil on them. The court after rejecting epa's appeal to subject all development activities on wetlands to strict environmental review had given orders favoring wetland developers and the National Mining Association.

Carol M Browner, administrator of the epa said, "The new proposal will allow us to go as far as we can through administrative reforms to protect wetlands. The action we take today strengthens the protection of vital resources for future generations."

According to official figures, in the last two years, almost 8,000 hectares of wetlands and some 240 kilometres of streams have been destroyed. "Destruction of wetlands can increase flooding and result in the loss of habitat," an epa official said.

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