CLOVIS --The Bush administration announced
on Monday the Clean Water Act will take effect today, prohibiting developers
from excavating in the nation's swamps, bogs and marshes without government approval.
The rule states that activities such as landscaping or
ditch digging in wetland areas must be regulated by the Environmental Protection
Agency. The EPA estimates that 20,000 acres of wetlands have been destroyed in
the last two years because of work done without approval.
The new rule, which is part of the Clean Water Act,
was approved by the White House after the Bush administration completed a review
of its regulations. "In addition to serving as habitat for wildlife, wetlands
help filter and protect our country's water supply," EPA chief Christie Whitman
said Monday. "Today's action will help preserve our wetlands for ourselves and
for future generations."
Jerry Howard, president of the National Assn. of Home
Builders, told reporters the builders have already filed a lawsuit to have
the Bush Wetlands rule thrown out. The issue of wetlands preservation has long
been a battleground for environmental groups and the construction industry. Under
the Clean Water Act, introducing contaminants into creeks, streams, ponds,
and marshlands is prohibited.