Quote of the Day - A President should never say never. - Ronald Reagan
In a surprising move, President Bush, the USEPA and the US Army Corps Of Engineers yesterday committed the federal government to "no net loss" of wetlands in the United States. USEPA and the USACOE announced that they would not issue a new rule on federal regulatory jurisdiction over isolated wetlands.
According to a USEPA press release, "Across the Federal Government, the Bush Administration has reaffirmed and bolstered protections for wetlands, which are vital for water quality, the health of our streams and wildlife habitat," said USEPA Administrator Mike Leavitt. Assistant Secretary of the Army John Paul Woodley Jr. added, "We will continue our efforts to ensure that the Corps' regulatory program is as effective, efficient and responsive as it can be."
The Supreme Court's 2001 decision in the case of Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (commonly referred to as to "SWANCC," and pronounced like it looks) overturned the USACOE's assertion of federal jurisdiction over certain isolated wetlands based on the presence of migratory birds.
Of course, USEPA and the USACOE responded by issuing revised guidance to their field offices. At the same time, the two agencies reaffirmed federal jurisdiction over the majority of wetlands not impacted by the decision.
The Bush Administration has 30 programs in place to protect and restore millions of acres of wetlands. These include the Food Security Act's "Swampbuster" requirements and the Wetlands Reserve Program, both under the authority of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
USEPA programs include its "Five Star Restoration program" grant program, the EPA wetlands grants programs and the National Estuary Program.
Other federal programs include the Fish and Wildlife Service's "Partners for Fish & Wildlife Program" program, the National Marine Fisheries Service's Coastal Wetlands Restoration Program and the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission.
Who woulda thunk it?