CT Shoreline in Summer

Written by charlie   
Tuesday, 15 September 2015 23:16
A refreshing, educational blog post about the CT shoreline in August, with some spectacular photos of an egret and insects. The site is well worth a bookmark.


Mapping Wetland Losses in Michigan

Written by charlie   
Sunday, 13 September 2015 22:53
The graphic below says it all, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has mapped wetland losses in the state; some counties in Michigan have lost over 90% of their wetlands, primarily during the last century. Click here to jump to the Michigan Radio article.

Michigan Wetland Losses

Clean Water Rule

Written by charlie   
Friday, 11 September 2015 00:00
Under Waters of the United States (WOTUS), 2 million miles of streams and 20 million acres of wetlands that provide drinking water would be designated as protected under the Clean Water Act.

After a lengthy public comment period which gathered over 900,000 comments, the vast majority of which were in support of the proposed changes, the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers rolled out the rule on August 28th 2015 to clarify the Clean Water Act and protect smaller streams, tributaries and wetlands that had fallen outside of the Clean Water Acts reach.

Over the past 15 years, the ability of the Clean Water Act to protect wetlands has diminished, primarily due to two Supreme Court rulings in 2001 and 2006. In Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v. Army Corps of Engineers (2001), the court ruled that the EPA could no longer use the migratory bird rule to assert jurisdiction over isolated waters. In Rapanos v. United States (2006), the Supreme Court decided the EPA could not regulate isolated wetlands, as they did not fall within the purview of the “navigable waters" of the United States as cited in section 404 of the Clean Water Act.

Combined, both of these decisions left as much as 60 percent of the nation's streams and millions of acres of wetlands with uncertain Federal protection. Recent studies have concluded that since these rulings were made, the drainage and conversion of wetlands has increased significantly.

The new rule, built on the best science available, attempts to clarify which waterways are afforded protection while leaving previous exemptions unchanged. It would only force a permitting process only if a business or landowner took steps that would pollute or destroy the affected waters — those with a "direct and significant" connection to larger bodies of water downstream that are already protected. That could include tributaries that show evidence of flowing water, for example.

Despite heated arguments to the contrary, many farming practices have, and will remain, exempt from the Clean Water Act, as they have been since the Act's inception in 1972.

Predictably, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the US Poultry & Egg Association and other farm and business organizations have fought the ruling, both in the court room and court of public opinion, using the "#Ditchtherule" social media campaign. The EPA and other organizations have also taken to social media using the "#Cleanwaterrules" hashtag to drum up support for the rule.

Based on the argument that the rule is too expansive and infringes upon states rights, a Federal court blocked the rule in 13 central and Western states: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. Interestingly enough, these states are know to have some of the weakest laws protecting wetlands and clean water, and would benefit the most from WOTUS.

This promises to be one of the largest clean water fights, and will likely drag on for years, but has the potential to make sweeping changes in the conservation and protection of wetlands and watercourses.Despite heated arguments to the contrary, many farming practices have, and will remain, exempt from the Clean Water Act, as they have been since the Act's inception in 1972.

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