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Wetlands Guidance? That’s Crazy Talk, Apparently

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September 04, 2013

Wetlands Guidance? That’s Crazy Talk, Apparently

By Bob Marshall

The most memorable definition of “crazy” goes something like this: Doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result.

Which brings us to the greater conservation community and its recent renewed request to the Obama Administration: Please release your new guidance on wetlands, now covered by the Clean Water Act, in response to Supreme Court decisions almost a decade ago that removed protections on 20 million acres – including the prairie potholes and 5,000 miles of stream sides.

Given the definition above, this request certifies conservationists as crazy because they have been making the same plea repeatedly over the last two years – and the response really hasn’t changed. Oh, there’s been a lot of head nodding, quiet assurances, and even some back-room promises. But the guidance still isn’t out.

For those who haven’t read this space in the last six years, here’s a refresher:

In 2006 the Supreme Court ruled that Congress never intended for the Clean Water Act to protect isolated and temporary wetlands, as every administration had been doing since the CWA passed in 1972. The ruling caused an uproar because those wetlands are among the most critical for many species, particularly waterfowl, which depend on the isolated, and temporary prairie potholes complexes for nesting. The ruling also meant stream sides essential to healthy trout populations could be left open to destruction everywhere.

Congress could fix the problem simply by passing a bill saying it wanted those wetlands included in the CWA. But despite all those members who love sportsmen at election time, they voted with developers and agricultural interests who hated the CWA, so bills that would restore protections never made it out of the House.

The impacts of this failure have become even larger considering the severe cutbacks in conservation programs currently underway by Congress.

Conservationists thought they had a champion in Obama, whose administration supported the protections and moved to reduce the impacts of the decisions by issuing new guidance to federal agencies on exactly what they could protect. It wouldn’t return things to the way they had been, but it would help a lot.

That action was ready to go three years ago, but has repeatedly been delayed. At first conservationists understood the politics involved: Facing election during tough economic times, the president didn’t want to give opponents a chance to say he was choosing ducks over jobs.

But the election was nearly a year ago. Obama won. But wetlands are still losing.

So, for the second time, a coalition of sportsmen’s groups have joined fish and wildlife biologists in urging the president to have his administration release the guidance that could limit the damage being done.

It’s the right thing to do environmentally. And it makes sense politically, because it’s as opportunity for the president to show what many camouflage-wearing voters have been saying for six years:  He may not be a hunter or angler, but he’s a better friend to conservationists than his predecessor.

Or, maybe they’re just crazy.

Comments (6)

Top Rated
All Comments
from Dcast wrote 32 weeks 4 days ago

Yes! Yes you are crazy! On many levels in fact. 1st off you continue to "Chicken Little" everything and nobody really that I can tell listens to you, I would bet more people do what I do and read your frustratingly humorous articles for the sheer ignorance and contempt you show. I thought for sure that you were going to make it all the way through an article without blaming Republicans but low and behold smack dab at the end you blame George W. Bush! My GAWD! What ignorance and stupidity? Bob come on you said yourself that it was decided by the SCOTUS, and last I checked George W. Bush was not part of the SCOTUS! You could prove me wrong but I highly doubt it. If you would like to have an adult discussion and want people to take you seriously start acting like an adult and throw your political propaganda out the door.

-2 Good Comment? | | Report
from GregMc wrote 32 weeks 4 days ago

Bob, thanks for the update. We need more people to press for clean water protections so we don't leave our children another mess that can't be reversed.
Dcast, take a chill pill. Lots of us read and appreciate Bob, however most of us don't feel the need to prattle on like a lunatic about it.
Maybe you should do something relaxing, I suggest fishing.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mr. Creosote wrote 32 weeks 4 days ago

Irony is Dcast, a master of the blubbering, childlike, utterly nonsensical right-wing tantrum, admonishing Bob Marshall to "act like an adult"...

The reason you believe that "nobody really that I can tell listens" to Marshall is because you live wholly within an impenetrable bubble of ignorance.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from RonDak wrote 32 weeks 4 days ago

Dcast- Who put Alito and Roberts on the court that ruled in this case?

"It was the first major environmental case heard by the newly appointed Chief Justice, John Roberts and Associate Justice, Samuel Alito. The Supreme Court heard the case on February 21, 2006 and issued a decision on June 19, 2006. While five justices agreed to void rulings against the plaintiffs, who wanted to fill their wetlands to build a shopping mall and condos, the court was split over further details, with the four more conservative justices arguing in favor of a more restrictive reading of the term "navigable waters" than the four more liberal justices."

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dcast wrote 32 weeks 3 days ago

GregMC, Let me ask you this? Instead of blubbering about useless verbiage why not spearhead new legislation to protect the waters Mr. Marshall claims to be so upset about? Why wait for a definition of something after almost 8yrs? He defined crazy in his opening statement and is doing exactly what he defines. Get over it and do something about it and quit pointing fingers at people whom have nothing to do with it!

Mr. Creosote, Nice to have you around to troll! I love your type, you come around to regurgitate much of nothing. The good thing is we won't have to deal with you very long, after this week you will be gone and on to trolling somewhere else!

Rondak, George W. Bush nominated Roberts and Alito to the court, however they had to be confirmed by congress. Nonetheless a Democratic ran Congress with them having both the House and the Senate. So this decision is Bush's fault for nominating to SCOTUS Judge's? Makes complete and total sense! Bob's and your argument is devoid of reason.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Constant Gardener wrote 31 weeks 4 days ago

Dcast, Marshall is arguing that, by clarifying the CWA with respect to wetlands, Obama could demonstrate that he is a better friend to conservationists that was G.W. Bush. Marshall's article indicts Obama for not having done so. The stuff about Congress and the Supremes is scene-setting so that we understand why Marshall invokes action from Obama versus the legislature or the judiciary. Take your finger off the offens-i-nator and step away.

When you're nice and calm, I'll explain that vexing who/whom distinction you're struggling with.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report

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from RonDak wrote 32 weeks 4 days ago

Dcast- Who put Alito and Roberts on the court that ruled in this case?

"It was the first major environmental case heard by the newly appointed Chief Justice, John Roberts and Associate Justice, Samuel Alito. The Supreme Court heard the case on February 21, 2006 and issued a decision on June 19, 2006. While five justices agreed to void rulings against the plaintiffs, who wanted to fill their wetlands to build a shopping mall and condos, the court was split over further details, with the four more conservative justices arguing in favor of a more restrictive reading of the term "navigable waters" than the four more liberal justices."

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Constant Gardener wrote 31 weeks 4 days ago

Dcast, Marshall is arguing that, by clarifying the CWA with respect to wetlands, Obama could demonstrate that he is a better friend to conservationists that was G.W. Bush. Marshall's article indicts Obama for not having done so. The stuff about Congress and the Supremes is scene-setting so that we understand why Marshall invokes action from Obama versus the legislature or the judiciary. Take your finger off the offens-i-nator and step away.

When you're nice and calm, I'll explain that vexing who/whom distinction you're struggling with.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from GregMc wrote 32 weeks 4 days ago

Bob, thanks for the update. We need more people to press for clean water protections so we don't leave our children another mess that can't be reversed.
Dcast, take a chill pill. Lots of us read and appreciate Bob, however most of us don't feel the need to prattle on like a lunatic about it.
Maybe you should do something relaxing, I suggest fishing.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mr. Creosote wrote 32 weeks 4 days ago

Irony is Dcast, a master of the blubbering, childlike, utterly nonsensical right-wing tantrum, admonishing Bob Marshall to "act like an adult"...

The reason you believe that "nobody really that I can tell listens" to Marshall is because you live wholly within an impenetrable bubble of ignorance.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dcast wrote 32 weeks 3 days ago

GregMC, Let me ask you this? Instead of blubbering about useless verbiage why not spearhead new legislation to protect the waters Mr. Marshall claims to be so upset about? Why wait for a definition of something after almost 8yrs? He defined crazy in his opening statement and is doing exactly what he defines. Get over it and do something about it and quit pointing fingers at people whom have nothing to do with it!

Mr. Creosote, Nice to have you around to troll! I love your type, you come around to regurgitate much of nothing. The good thing is we won't have to deal with you very long, after this week you will be gone and on to trolling somewhere else!

Rondak, George W. Bush nominated Roberts and Alito to the court, however they had to be confirmed by congress. Nonetheless a Democratic ran Congress with them having both the House and the Senate. So this decision is Bush's fault for nominating to SCOTUS Judge's? Makes complete and total sense! Bob's and your argument is devoid of reason.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dcast wrote 32 weeks 4 days ago

Yes! Yes you are crazy! On many levels in fact. 1st off you continue to "Chicken Little" everything and nobody really that I can tell listens to you, I would bet more people do what I do and read your frustratingly humorous articles for the sheer ignorance and contempt you show. I thought for sure that you were going to make it all the way through an article without blaming Republicans but low and behold smack dab at the end you blame George W. Bush! My GAWD! What ignorance and stupidity? Bob come on you said yourself that it was decided by the SCOTUS, and last I checked George W. Bush was not part of the SCOTUS! You could prove me wrong but I highly doubt it. If you would like to have an adult discussion and want people to take you seriously start acting like an adult and throw your political propaganda out the door.

-2 Good Comment? | | Report

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