The EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers recently drafted guidelines for what is meant by ‘wetlands’ when applying the Clean Water Act. The new guidelines provide clear protection for many of the small streams and wetlands that provide drinking water, flood control, filtration, and habitat for fish and wildlife. That protection was removed by the Bush administration in 2003 in response to calls from developers, oil companies, and agri-business. Environmentalists welcomed this return to the original intent of the 1972 Clean Water Act. In Pennsylvania the new guidelines could have an effect on the EPA and Corps’ ability to protect wetlands from Marcellus drilling.
Unfortunately, in a sneaky move on June 15 the House Appropriations Committee removed funding to “develop, adopt, implement, administer or enforce” the new guidelines from the Corps of Engineers’ budget.