Bush Policies Leading to Wetlands Loss, Report Says

Bush has trumpeted wetlands policy as the primary evidence of his environmental bona fides. But four national enviro groups beg to differ, releasing a report today claiming that thousands of acres of wetlands have been drained by developers under a policy adopted by the Bush administration. At issue is the feds’ interpretation of a 2001 Supreme Court decision that said isolated wetlands — those that do not cross state borders and are not navigable — are not subject to the same federal protections as other wetlands. Last year, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the EPA issued a directive stating that they could not protect such wetlands unless they were involved with interstate commerce, a policy that Daniel Rosenberg, senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, mocked as “mindless.” The report, based on Freedom of Information Act requests, details more than a dozen cases where the Corps approved development in ecologically sensitive areas. James Connaughton, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, called the report’s findings “highly questionable.”