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E-M:/ Barcia Pushing Wetlands Mitigation Banking

Enviro-Mich message from "Alex J. Sagady & Associates" <ajs@sagady.com>

Michigan Congressman James Barcia (D-Bay City)
is competing to be a stooge for the developers
and wetland pavers/fillers and the Engler Administration
promoters of so-called "wetland mitigation 

Barcia is a prime sponsor and promoter of 
legislation on this issue that is being opposed by 
Clean Water Network....their alert is below.

Wetlands mitigation banking and Barcia swallowing
this hook-line and sinker is a products of the 
right wing crackpots from groups like the Mackinac 
Center, the Heritage Fund and the American Legislative
Exchange Council trying to manipulate the environment
using economic theory rather than protective environmental 

Clean Water Network alert is below:

Date: Tue, 30 Mar 1999 18:16:20 -0500
From: Jodi Theut <cleanwaternt@igc.org>
Organization: Clean Water Network
Reply-To: cleanwaternt@igc.org
Sender: owner-cleanwater-info@igc.apc.org
Subject: Wetlands Mitigation Banking Bill is Back!
To: cleanwater-info@igc.org


Jones Wetlands Mitigation Banking Bill Rears Its Ugly Head Again!
CWN has learned that the Jones Wetland Mitigation Banking Bill (HR 1290)
has been introduced into the 106th Congress.  Representative Walter
Jones (R-NC) introduced the bill last week (3/25/99).  HR 1290 (no
you’re not dreaming—it’s the same bill number as last year!) is being
co-sponsored by Rep. Bob Clement (D-TN), Rep. G. Taylor (D-MS), Rep. J.
Traficant (D-OH), Rep. B. Tauzin (R-LA), Rep. J. Saxton (R-NJ), Rep. R.
Baker (R-LA), Rep. J. Barcia (D-MI), and Rep. R. Army (R-TX).

CWN wetlands working group co-chairs are still in the process of
obtaining and analyzing the bill, but early intelligence tells us that
it is the same bill that was reported out of the House Transportation
and Infrastructure Committee last year.  

Last year all of your amazing and hard work to improve and stall the
Jones bill made a real difference.  It is time to gear up for another
fight to protect our remaining natural wetlands.  Attached you will find
the list of the Water Resources & Environment Subcommittee to contact
regarding HR 1290.  You will also find background on wetlands mitigation
banking.  Finally, attached are the CWN’s principal objections to last
years Jones Bill, which we assume will be the same for the bill
introduced into the 106th Congress.  Last year's fact sheet will help
you get familiar with this bill.  We will send you a new revised fact
sheet as soon as we get an official copy of the bill as introduced last

Please feel free to contact CWN if you have any questions.  We will
forward on to all you information as we gather it.  Thanks as always!

STEP 1. CONTACT YOUR REPRESENTATIVE:  Please call your Representatives
if they are on the Water Resources Subcommittee (list below) as they
will be the first to consider HR 1290.  This week is a great time to
contact them in your home districts as they are on Easter break until
April 5th.  (The House will be back in Washington, D.C. on April 5th.)
MESSAGE: Ask them to oppose the Jones Wetlands Mitigation Banking Bill.
Tell your Representative you are opposed to the Jones wetlands bill,
H.R. 1290, because it does not protect the environment and fails to
address the real reasons why America is losing more than 100,000 acres
of wetlands a year.  Ask your member to vote against the Jones bill when
the Water Resources and the Environment Subcommittee considers the

Water Resources & Environment Subcommittee:
Baird (D-WA)
Baker (R-LA)
Baldacci (D-ME)
Barcia (D-MI)
Bateman (R-VA)
Bereuter (R-NE)
Blumenauer (D-OR)
Boehlert (R-NY)
Borski (D-PA)
Boswell (D-IA)
Clement (D-TN)
Costello (D-IL)
Doolittle (R-CA)
Ehlers (R-MI)
Franks (R-NJ)
Gilchrest (R-MD)
Horn (R-CA)
Hutchinson (R-AR)
Kelly (R-NY)
Kuykendall (R-CA)
Lampson (D-TX)
LaTourette (R-OH)
LoBiondo (R-NJ)
Mascara (D-PA) 
McGovern (D-MA)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Ney (R-OH)
Pascrell (D-NJ)
Quinn (R-NY)
Simpson (R-ID)
Taucher (D-CA)
Taylor (D-MS)
Young, D. (R-AK)

For those of your who need a refresher on wetlands mitigation

1)  What is mitigation banking?  
        Under the 404 program of the Clean Water Act, project applicants
asked to avoid wetland impacts, minimize those that cannot be avoided,
and compensate (by restoring or creating wetlands) for those that cannot
be avoided or minimized.    Compensatory mitigation has a very high
failure rate.  Mitigation banking is being touted as a way to raise
success rates by allowing entrepreneurs to restore wetlands and then
sell "credits" representing the wetlands to developers who need to
offset the unavoidable impacts of their projects.  Although the Clean
Water Act does not mention wetlands mitigation banking, over 400
mitigation banks are presently in operation around the country, with no
consistency in structure, oversight, or performance standards.
Don't believe the hype about mitigation banking. The April 1998 issue of
Science magazine says that "restored wetlands flunk the real world
test". Wetlands mitigation banking schemes are often wishful thinking
schemes being pushed by industry, for the convenience of industry. There
has been no comprehensive study of the success or failure of mitigation
banks, but most have failed miserably. Mitigation  banking is based on
the premise that man-made wetlands are just like Nature's own. But we
know that when wetlands are "relocated" to convenient spots, the
much-needed functions of water purification, flood-control, and fishery 
habitat at that original site are lost forever. In an era when we
continue to destroy more than 110,000 acres of wetlands every year, do
we really need a bill that paves the way for wetlands destruction by

2)  Attached is the list of principal objections to the Jones Bill
introduced in the 105th Congress.  If our information is correct that it
is the same bill, the information will remain correct for this year as
June 1998
Principal Objections to Revised H.R. 1290 (Water Resources Subcommittee)

1.  Sequencing: The bill fails to provide that sequencing (the
requirement that developers first avoid and then minimize wetland
impacts before mitigating for those impacts that cannot be avoided or
further minimized) be followed where mitigation banks are used.  Without
a clear sequencing requirement, mitigation banks can easily be used as
an excuse for permitting unnecessary and damaging wetland destruction.
2.  Lack of Adequate Requirements for Bank Success: H.R. 1290 lacks
adequate provisions to ensure that banks are successful ecologically. 
For example, there are no criteria for success, there is no requirement
for the Corps to evaluate and make findings on the success or failure of
a bank, and there is no opportunity for public input in determining and
ensuring the success of a bank.
3.  Credit for Preservation: The bill would allow a bank to sell credits
for preserving wetlands (or even uplands), and would in fact allow banks
based entirely upon preservation.   Preservation cannot compensate for
wetland destruction in the nation's continuing effort to achieve and
move beyond no net loss of wetlands.
4.  Moving Wetlands: H.R. 1290 defines "service areas" -- the geographic
areas within which mitigation credits can be traded -- with reference to
the appropriate watershed maps, but describes these maps as
"guidelines," rather than binding limits.  Also, the bill would allow
banks to serve broad "ecoregions" that can cross several watersheds.  As
a result, the bill would allow developers effectively to attempt to
"move" wetlands by restoring or creating a wetland far away from the
wetland being destroyed.
5.  Enforcement: H.R. 1290 still contains no provision for enforcement
against mitigation banks that fail to meet their obligations.
6.  Advance Sale of Mitigation Credits: H.R. 1290 allows a bank to sell
up to 100% of its credits as soon as the bank is chartered by the Corps,
before any wetlands have been established.  The sale of advance credits
both increases the likelihood of bank failure (by reducing the incentive
for a bank sponsor to follow through on a bank’s obligations) and
creates a significant temporal gap between the destruction of the
natural wetland and the full functioning of the bank wetlands.  
7.  Failure to Address Wider Mitigation Problems: H.R. 1290 fails to
apply meaningful safeguards to other forms of mitigation, such as
"in-lieu fee" mitigation, which has been particularly subject to abuse. 
The bill calls for other forms of mitigation to be subject to
"equivalent standards" to banks, but since the banking standards still
do not include ecological success criteria, it is unclear how equivalent
standards for other forms of mitigation could require meaningful
8. In-Kind Compensation: H.R. 1290 expresses a preference for developers
to use banks that contain the same type of wetland as the wetland being
destroyed, but allows "out-of-kind" mitigation whenever "desirable." 
Given the option, developers will compensate for difficult-to-replace
wetland types (such as forested wetlands) by using other,
cheaper-to-establish types of wetlands.
9. Compliance of Existing Mitigation Banks: H.R. 1290 explicitly exempts
existing banks from having to comply with any new safeguards.
10. Inadequate Definitions: H.R. 1290's definitions reference vague
existing guidelines, leaving the door open for poor implementation and
11. Unbalanced Findings and Policies: H.R. 1290 retains damaging and
unjustified language that would establish a national policy to promote
mitigation banking. 

12. Squeezing the federal resource agencies out of the process: 
Presently, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the National Marine Fisheries Service
(NMFS) contribute vital expertise to the process of reviewing banks and
setting their ecological success standards.  H.R. 1290 significantly
reduces the role of these agencies, giving them little to do but comment
on bank proposals, and even then limiting their comments to a short
comment period.

13. Failure to Address Real Wetlands Threat: H.R. 1290 fails to confirm
the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ jurisdiction over excavation
activities.  Yet, were excavation activities to go unregulated, some
10,000 acres of wetlands and 10,000 acres of open water would be
destroyed each year with no review by federal agencies -- and no
requirement of compensatory mitigation, at a bank or anywhere else. 
Codifying authority for mitigation banking without confirming the Corps’
jurisdiction over excavation lowers a barrier to permitted wetlands loss
without narrowing the major avenue of unpermitted destruction. 

Prepared by,
National Wildlife Federation
National Audubon Society
Chesapeake Bay Foundation
Natural Resources Defense Council
Sierra Club
American Oceans Campaign
Center for Marine Conservation

-- June 2, 1998
Alex J. Sagady & Associates        Email:  ajs@sagady.com

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