Stream Banks – an Essential Tool to achieve No Net Loss

“Mitigation Banking” may be an difficult term but it’s proving to be an essential tool for improving and protecting wetlands, streams, and other aquatic resources impacted by development.  It will only grow in importance as America yearns for energy security, while continuing to embrace noble goals of “no net loss” of wetlands and “fishable and swimmable ” quality under the Clean Water Act. For starters, the word “mitigation” is confusing. It has a different meaning in the Clean Water Act (CWA) and aquatic resources context compared to mitigation under Clean Air Act and greenhouse gas programs, where it connotes reduction, even prevention of emissions. For CWA and aquatic impacts, it’s essentially about compensation – the actions permittees must take to pay for resulting “sins” of a project making its way through the regulatory process.This all underscores the most important principle for environmentalists and responsible regulators: “sequencing”. They may be willing to support compensatory mitigation if it’s the third and final step, the last resort, after step 1: practicable alternatives analysis and step 2: minimizing unavoidable impacts. Controversy surrounding the first step, when regulators challenge the purpose of a project and whether it really has to be in or near wetlands and other waters, creates a temptation to simply build first and ask forgiveness later. Regulators may also be tempted to skip or marginalize the second step, minimization, where permit applicants are expected to reduce environmental impacts by modifying project features, and go straight to mitigation. Environmentalists argue that deviations in sequencing, which put a priority on avoiding and minimizing harm, can lead to wheeling and dealing to enable unwise development.
READ MORE AT:  http://www.uswateralliance.org/2014/02/26/stream-banks/
Printed with permission of Ben Grumbles

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