EPA Publishes Final Wetlands Mitigation Rule
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized a wetlands mitigation program rule that clarifies the process of compensating for unavoidable impacts to wetlands and streams when builders and developers holding a wetlands permit are working on the site.
EPA officials summarized the final rule in a telephone press conference in Washington last week.
The rule follows a congressional directive for the agency to create a program that would result in no net loss of wetlands, EPA officials said. It also ensures an “efficient and transparent” mitigation program and encourages the use of watersheds.
The rule emphasizes that developers must first work to avoid any impact to wetlands. If that is not possible, they must work to minimize that impact. Finally, the developer must mitigate any impacts by providing for mitigation banking.
The mitigation must also be “in kind” wherever feasible, officials said. For example, while developers can receive credit under the program for creating and restoring a stream, recreating the same kind of wetland that was impacted is preferable.
Public review of the mitigation process has been enhanced under the final rule, the officials said.
NAHB submitted comments on the proposed rule and is now studying it.
“NAHB has been pushing for the need to provide all kinds of mitigation options and better incorporate science in the decision-making process. The new mitigation rule appears to do that,” said Susan Asmus, NAHB’s vice president of environment, labor, safety and heath. “We look forward to studying and analyzing the rule in depth and providing guidance to our members.”
For more information, e-mail Calli Schmidt at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8132.