Trump’s move to redefine water rule threatens wetlands banks

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Experts say the Trump administration’s move to redefine what constitutes a waterway under federal law is threatening a uniquely American effort to save wetlands from destruction. The system is a mix of conservation and capitalism that has been supported by every president since George H.W. Bush first pledged a goal of “no net loss” of U.S. wetlands.

It’s called “wetlands mitigation banking,” and it has grown from about 40 banks in the early 1990s to nearly 1,500 today. The banks are comprised of restored wetlands that sell credits meant to offset areas destroyed by development.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to propose a new rule that would restrict the number of waterways protected under the Clean Water Act.

Stetson University law professor Royal Gardner says this would destroy federally supported mitigation banking, which has become a thriving, billion-dollar industry.