Thursday, June 7, 2007

Clean Water Setback

In a blow to the Clean Water Act, the EPA has changed the requirements for protection of a body of water, according to Time:
The Bush administration made it harder Tuesday for non-permanent streams and nearby wetlands to be protected under the federal Clean Water Act.
The new guidance issued by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers requires that for such waters to be protected there must be a "significant nexus" shown between the intermittent stream or wetland and a traditional waterway.
And the guidance says a determination will be made on a case-by-case basis, analyzing flow and other issues. Environmentalist argued that would negate the broader regional importance of many such waterways in the aggregate on water bodies downstream.
Assistant EPA Administrator Benjamin Grumbles said the new guidance to regional offices and enforcement officials "sends a clear signal we'll use our regulatory tools" to meet President Bush's promise of no net loss of wetlands.
He said it "maintains ... the Bush administration's strong commitment to wetlands conservation."
Environmentalists said the new rules will put in jeopardy many of the intermittent streams and headwaters that now fall under the Clean Water Act, and result in less protection of wetlands.
"This guidance adds unnecessary and unintended hurdles for agencies and citizens trying to protect our wasters," said Jan Goldman-Carter, an attorney for the National Wildlife Federation, and she called it a "retreat from protecting many important headwaters streams and wetlands."

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