Environmental Protection

Earthjustice Finds Fault with Mitigation Proposal

New regulations announced on March 31 offer a misleading "watershed approach" to stream and wetlands mitigation, lacking any scientific evidence that what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers propose can actually be accomplished, according to a press release from Earthjustice.

Despite opposition from wetland, river, and stream scientists that it is not possible to "create" new streams and wetlands, the Corps and EPA are pushing forward a plan proposed in 2006 that allows almost any kind of activity branded by the Corps as "mitigation" to be treated as compensation for wholesale stream and wetland destruction.

"Under this plan, streams and wetlands that are permanently buried or filled by developers and polluters can suddenly be compensated by creating new streams and wetlands somewhere else," said Joan Mulhern, senior legislative counsel at Earthjustice. "Just because the agencies say so does not mean it is possible to actually create a stream or wetland. Despite mountains of evidence saying it's simply not possible to recreate the values and functions of streams and wetlands, the EPA and the Corps are pushing forward this misguided policy.

"Although it has never actually been successfully accomplished, the EPA and the Corps are allowing and encouraging stream and wetland creation. Maybe these agencies are somehow able to perform miracles, but they have yet shown any evidence that this is actually possible. If they can create streams and wetlands, essentially performing the functions of God and nature, we eagerly await some proof. Until then, it makes no sense to proceed with a plan that relies so heavily on stream and wetland creations that have yet to actually be achieved."

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