Further Revisions to the Clean Water Act Regulatory Definition of "Discharge of Dredged Material"
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The Environmental Protection Agency is moving forward with a final regulation (commonly called the "Tulloch Rule") that strengthens wetlands protection. The new rule, issued jointly with the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, will help stem the loss of the nation's wetlands by clarifying the types of activities that are likely to result in a discharge of dredged material regulated under the Clean Water Act. The agencies estimate that since 1998 at least 20,000 wetland acres have been targeted for ditching, draining, and destruction and 150 miles of streams channelized because of a regulatory loophole. While the new rule is an important step to protect the nation's wetlands, no regulatory action can fully close the Clean Water Act loophole that has led to this type of wetlands destruction. Congress will need to act and strengthen the Clean Water Act to close this loophole completely.
On April 16, 2001, acting on behalf of the Bush Administration, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christie Todd Whitman endorsed the entry into force of the January 17, 2001, "Tulloch Rule," which revises the regulatory definition of "Discharge of Dredged Material." In accordance with the memorandum of January 20, 2001, from the Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff, entitled "Regulatory Review Plan," the effective date of this rule was temporarily delayed for 60 days, from February 16, 2001, to a new effective date of April 17, 2001. The delay of effective date was published in the Federal Register on February 16, 2001, at 66 FR 10367. Review of the Tulloch Rule has been completed and it went into effect on April 17, 2001. In endorsing the new rule, Administrator Whitman noted, "The protection of America's vanishing wetlands is a vital step toward ensuring cleaner water for everyone. In addition to serving as habitat for wildlife, wetlands help filter and protect our country's water supply." Entry into force of the rule, the Administrator continued, ". . . will help preserve our wetlands for ourselves and for future generations."