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Swamped With Cash

Political campaign contributions and the assault on America's wetlands laws

Swamped With Cash - Notes

March 1, 1996

Swamped With Cash: Swamped With Cash - Notes


1. Senator John Chafee, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, is expected to address wetlands issues as part of a comprehensive Clean Water bill this year.

2. The North Dakota evaluation team did not provide an overall estimate for the total amount or percentage of wetlands that would lose protection in the state under the two bills. Instead, it provided estimates for wetlands losses based on the type of wetlands that would be affected, ranging from 10 percent losses for permanently flooded wetlands to 100 percent for temporarily and seasonally flooded wetlands. Weighing the relative frequency of these wetlands types, and based on estimates for neighboring states, EWG used a conservative, mid-point estimate that 55 percent of all remaining wetlands would lose protection in North Dakota under H.R. 961 and S. 851.

3. The Clean Water Act wetlands protection program, also known as the Section 404 program, requires a developer to obtain a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers before draining or filling a wetland. Permit applicants must try to avoid and minimize unnecessary damage to wetlands where practicable, and may be required to compensate for damage to wetlands by restoring other wetlands. The Section 404 permit process provides no absolute guarantee that all wetlands will be protected, but it does promote alternatives that may have lower impacts on wetlands.

4. Usually, wetlands permits are denied when there is a practicable alternative to the project that would have lower impacts on wetlands. According to data obtained from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, only one half of one percent of all wetlands permits on which final action was taken in fiscal year 1995 were denied.

5. Data for the 1996 election cycle include all campaign contributions made on or before December 31, 1995.