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[GreenYes] FWD: Environmental protection
Forwarded without comment

Gene Bluestein wrote:

> Green Delaware Alert #116
>         (please post/forward)
>         Rogue military command up to more mischief:
>         U.S. Army Corp of Engineers weakening wetlands
> protections
> December 4, 2001. With attention focused on the U.S.
> Army Corp of Engineers
> due to the December 4th and 5th Delaware permit
> hearings on deepening the
> Delaware River, it seems timely to pay some attention
> to this military
> agency charged with civilian responsibilities.  The
> Corp has "built" a
> record as the most anti-environmental of the main
> Federal agencies dealing
> with environmental matters.  Wetlands are essential to
> preservation of
> water quality and aquatic life. The Corp has lead
> responsibility for the
> protection of wetlands in the U.S.  but has long failed
> to carry out those
> responsibilities in accordance with the Clean Water
> Act.  The Corp, like
> the Bush administration generally, is taking advantage
> of the "September
> 11th" disasters to weaken protection of the environment
> whenever possible.
> According to an October 9, 2001 release from Public
> Employees for
> Environmental Responsibility:
> "Washington, DC The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is
> directing its staff to
> expedite wetland development permits to spur 'economic
> development and
> moving money into the economy' following the attacks on
> the World Trade
> Center and Pentagon, according to an Email released by
> Public Employees for
> Environmental Responsibility (PEER). At the same time,
> Corps records show
> steady declines in inspections, enforcement and wetland
> restorations ...
> The Corps is denying almost no permits and taking very
> few enforcement
> actions. ... The number of wetlands restored under
> Corps auspices has
> declined by more than half since 1992. ...  Inspections
> and site visits are
> at their lowest level.... In a September 21 email, John
> Studt, Chief of the
> Corps Regulatory Branch admonished his staff to
> expedite development
> projects because, 'The harder we work to expedite
> issuance of permits, the
> more we serve the Nation by moving the economy
> forward.'"  For more details
> see
> It gets worse.  From the National Audubon Society
> Wetlands Campaign:
> "On October 31, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
> (Corps) took a distressing
> step toward weakening wetlands protection. Whether
> intentionally or
> unintentionally, the Corps, without any public notice
> or coordination with
> other federal agencies which share responsibility for
> wetlands policy, has
> unilaterally begun dismantling the national policy goal
> of "no net loss"of
> wetlands ...  "No net loss" refers to a policy of
> mitigating (or replacing)
> wetlands destroyed by development activities with new
> wetlands of equal
> value and function. The Corps is supposed to place the
> highest priority on
> avoiding harm to wetlands, rather than mitigating
> damage after it has
> occurred.
> Unfortunately, the agency often allows destruction of
> wetlands based on
> inexact promises of "mitigation." The latest move by
> the Corps lessens even
> this approach.
> Through their October 31 Regulatory Guidance Letter,
> the Corps has set a
> new policy regarding mitigation for destroyed wetlands.
> (A Regulatory
> Guidance Letter is the way the Corps issues guidance to
> its field offices.)
> In this case, the letter offers almost an "anything
> goes approach" to
> replacement of destroyed wetlands. For example,
> according to the new
> guidelines replacement be accomplished by simply
> deepening an existing
> wetland for swimming or fishing. Other replacement
> options include
> preservation or enhancement of existing wetlands, or
> small buffer strips
> along streams, upland areas, ponds and other waters.
> The Corps has come under increased criticism over the
> past year for its
> failure to ensure that destroyed wetlands are
> adequately replaced in
> acreage and function. In fact, the National Academy of
> Sciences (NAS)
> recently published a report that found that the Corps
> policies were not
> providing for "no net loss" of wetlands and that
> serious improvements were
> needed. This new directive does not answer the Corps
> critics nor is it
> enough to protect wetlands - especially since more than
> 100,000 acres of
> wetlands are destroyed every year."
> "As someone concerned about America's wetlands, please
> take a moment to
> communicate with James Connaughton, the Chairman of the
> Council on
> Environmental Quality (CEQ) on this critical subject.
> Urge him to have the
> Administration withdraw the Regulatory Guidance Letter
> 01-1, dated October
> 31, 2001, and require more input from the public and
> the academic
> community, as well as the EPA and other federal
> agencies charged with
> responsibility for the Clean Water Act Section 404
> program, to develop
> improvements to the mitigation program that address all
> of the National
> Academy of Sciences 92 recommendations. You can contact
> Chairman
> Connaughton via e-mail"
> The involvement of the US Army in maintaining rivers
> and harbors seems to
> be historical, and related to the fact that in the
> early days of the United
> States many if not most civil engineers were trained at
> the US Military
> Academy (West Point.)  The Corp's military
> decision-making style seems
> incompatible with the openness and extensive public
> participation such
> activities deserve.  These activities should be turned
> over to civilian
> organizations.  Likewise, the Corp should not have
> responsibility for
> wetlands permitting because of the fundamental conflict
> of interest.  And,
> this is not a logical activity for the U.S. Army.
> Note: the Corp of Engineers has been designated the
> lead Federal agency for
> liaison with the Delaware River Basin Commission
> (DRBC).  The DRBC claims
> it has little to no role in the Delaware River
> deepening project.
> At the Corp's June "workshop" on dredging the Delaware,
> Green Delaware
> challenged District Engineer Lt.  Col. Tim Brown to "do
> something useful
> instead" by helping end the raw sewage dumping by the
> City of Wilmington,
> DE.  Col.  Brown promised to respond to us but never
> did.
> Green Delaware is a community based organization
> working on environment and
> public health issues.   We try to provide "information
> you can
> use."  Please use it.  Reach us at 302.834.3466,
>         ##END##

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