At a time when destroyed wetlands should be rebuilt and existing wetlands need protection we getthis from the Army Corps of Engineers which developers will love…
Federal wetlands regulators have dropped a bombshell on environmentalists with a little-publicized proposal to relax restrictions on filling in certain wetlands along the entire Mississippi Gulf Coast to speed recovery from Hurricane Katrina.
The Corps’ proposal would allow property owners and developers to skirt the conventional “regional general permit” process for any projects that fill up to 5 acres of “low-quality” wetlands in the six southernmost Mississippi counties. Especially galling to environmentalists: The new process would also eliminate the requirement for public notice of such projects.
The change in procedure would allow property owners to decide on their own that any wetlands in planned developments are 5 acres or less and of “low quality,” and proceed quickly to the building phase. The proposal covers virtually all land uses from houses to shopping centers. Tidal wetlands, historic sites and any known habitat of endangered or threatened species are excluded.
MS state rep Frances Fredericks of Gulfport said this…
“We’ve just had the worst disaster this country has ever had,” she said. “People are taking advantage of that to come in and get permits, pushing and pushing to get permits all in the name of recovery to do things they wanted to do for a long time.”
If you can’t enforce it legalize it…
“Basically, at this meeting, they tell us they have no ability to do enforcement,” said Howard Page, the Sierra Club’s regional conservation chairman and a member of the club’s state board. Instead, he said, they were told of the proposal to lessen wetlands regulation.
“Everyone kind of all at once dropped their jaw and looked at it,” Page said. “The proposed change would codify the lack of enforcement.”