Despite Pres. Clinton’s pledge to protect wetlands, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is backing off from enforcing the nation’s primary wetlands protection law, according to a review of the Corps’s records. The Corps has cut inspections for possible violations by 40 percent since 1992, and in 1998 rejected only 3.2 percent of applications for major wetlands projects. Congressional budget freezes have forced cutbacks in wetlands staff, and Corps employees say they feel pressured to process applications faster and avoid costly enforcement efforts. The U.S. loses more than 100,000 acres of wetlands each year.
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