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Legislative History and Digest of S. 851


CLEAN WATER ACT: WETLANDS

BILL NO: S. 851 (104th CONGRESS, 1st SESSION)

OFFICIAL TITLE: An act to amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to reform the wetlands regulatory program, and for other purposes

SPONSOR: Sen. J. Bennett Johnston (D-LA)

DATE INTRODUCED: 05-25-95

COSPONSORS: 21 CURRENT COSPONSORS
As Introduced: Faircloth, Breaux, Pressler, Dorgan, Lott, Dole, Murkowski, Heflin.
06-06-95 Warner.
06-28-95 Stevens, Craig.
08-01-95 Inhofe, Smith, McConnell, Thomas, Cochran, Abraham
08-04-95 Bennett
08-09-95 Hatch
08-10-95 Nickles
11-20-95 Kempthorne

COMMITTEE/SUBCOMMITTEE REFERRAL:
05-25-95 Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.
07-19-95 Senate Subcommittee on Air, Wetlands, Property, & Nuclear. Hearings Held.

LEGISLATIVE ACTION:
05-25-95 Referred to Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.
07-19-95 Referred to Subcommittee on Air, Wetlands, Property, & Nuclear. Hearings Held

RELATED LEGISLATION:
H.R. 961

COMPLETE BILL TEXT:
The complete bill text is available on Thomas: The Library of Congress Web Site. In Thomas, click on Full Text of Legislation, then 104th Congress Bills, then Search by Bill Number, type in s 851 , hit RUN QUERY, and choose the most recent version.

BILL DIGEST:

(AS INTRODUCED)

Wetlands Regulatory Reform Act of 1995 - Amends the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to establish a procedure whereby a person who holds an ownership interest in property, or who has written authorization from such a person, may request the Secretary of the Army to determine whether the property contains U.S. waters, and if so, whether any portion of the waters is wetland and its classification. Directs the Secretary to establish a program under which persons other than Federal employees may be certified to make such determinations.

Prohibits the discharge of dredged or fill material into U.S. waters or the draining, channelization, and excavation of U.S. waters that would significantly degrade any U.S. waters unless such activity is undertaken pursuant to a permit issued by the Secretary.

Sets forth provisions regarding: (1) extensions; and (2) failure by the Secretary to issue a decision.

Requires the Secretary to: (1) issue regulations which shall include standards for the issuance of permits for activities in U.S. waters that are wetland; and (2) consult with the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency regarding whether such an activity would have an unacceptable adverse impact on water quality, municipal water supplies, shellfish beds or fishery areas, or wetland-dependent wildlife.

Exempts an activity in U.S. waters from the permit requirement if the activity results from a normal farming, silviculture, aquaculture, or ranching activity, or an upland soil and water conservation practice, or is for the purpose of maintenance, and under other specified circumstances.

Specifies that such an activity shall not be prohibited or otherwise subject to the permit requirement regarding an approved State permit program if: (1) information on the effects of the activity is included in an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the project; and (2) such EIS has been submitted to the Congress before the activity is carried out in connection with project construction and prior to project authorization or appropriation of funds for the construction.

Directs the Secretary, after notice and opportunity for public comment, to issue regulations for the delineation of "wetland." Requires such regulations to provide for such designation if specified conditions are met, including that, in the case of nontidal wetland, water is on or above the surface of the ground for at least 21 consecutive days during the growing season in a year of normal rainfall.

Requires the Secretary to classify as: (1) Class A wetlands those that are of critical significance to the long-term conservation of the aquatic system and that meet other specified conditions; (2) Class B wetlands those that provide habitat for a significant population of wildlife or provide other significant wetland functions; and (3) Class C wetlands those that serve marginal functions but exist in such abundance that regulation is not necessary to conserve wetlands functions, are within an intensely developed area, or are located behind a legally constructed manmade structure or natural formation.

Provides for the regulation of: (1) Class A wetland based on a sequential analysis that seeks to avoid adverse impacts on wetlands, to minimize the adverse impacts which cannot be avoided, and to mitigate any adverse impacts that cannot be avoided or minimized; (2) Class B wetland under a test that balances the reasonably foreseeable benefits and detriments resulting from the issuance of the permit; and (3) Class C wetland only by the State government at its discretion.

Authorizes the Secretary to issue a general permit on a State, regional, or nationwide basis for any activities in U.S. waters for which a permit would otherwise be required upon determining that the activities will cause only minimal or temporary adverse environmental impacts when performed separately, and will cause only minimal cumulative adverse environmental impacts.

Sets forth provisions regarding: (1) Alaska native and State of Alaska lands; (2) interagency cooperation; (3) permit compliance; (4) cranberry production; (5) violations (including civil actions by the Secretary and civil and criminal penalties); and (6) administrative appeals.

Directs the Secretary to: (1) issue regulations for the establishment, use, maintenance, and oversight of mitigation banks; (2) provide appropriate regulatory relief regarding regulations issued for each activity in U.S. waters that has as the primary purpose to restore degraded wetland; and (3) establish a registry of wetland that has been created or restored voluntarily in an area that, prior to the creation or restoration, did not contain U.S. waters and therefore was not subject to regulation.

Sets forth provisions regarding: (1) State permit programs; (2) requirements that information be made available to the public regarding the designation of wetlands; (3) certification requirements; (4) State authority to control activities in U.S. waters; (5) balanced implementation of the Act to achieve specified objectives; and (6) transition provisions.

(Source: Library of Congress)


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Last updated July 8, 1996 by Heidi Mohlman, AGI Government Affairs Intern

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