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Library of Congress Summary
The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress.
Wetlands Stewardship Act of 1991 -
Amends the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to provide that it is U.S. policy to: (1) achieve no overall net loss of the nation's wetland base; and (2) restore and create wetlands to increase the quality and quantity of the nation's wetlands resource base. Adds to the list of activities in navigable waters that the Secretary of the Army (Secretary) is authorized to issue permits for: (1) dredging, excavation, channelization, draining, or flooding of wetlands; and (2) activities that will impair the flow, reach, or circulation of navigable waters. Permits the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to prohibit or restrict any discharge into or alteration of navigable waters resulting from permitted activities. Requires the Administrator and the Secretary to establish procedures under which permit applicants and other affected persons may appeal prohibitions or restrictions. Applies provisions regarding the issuance of general permits on a State, regional, or nationwide basis to activities conducted in navigable waters authorized by this Act. Permits the Secretary to issue general permits jointly with a State that has a wetlands conservation plan for categories of activities in navigable waters or categories of navigable waters if such activities will have minimal adverse effects on the environment. Adds to the list of activities exempt from regulation under this Act: (1) activities conducted in altered or degraded nontidal wetlands in private ownership in accordance with an agreement between the landowner and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the Soil Conservation Service that provides for the restoration of wetlands values and functions; (2) silviculture activities conducted in accordance with best management practices approved by the State in which such activities are conducted; (3) aquaculture activities conducted before this Act's enactment date; and (4) aggregate or clay mining activities, subject to certain conditions. Authorizes the Secretary to provide for expedited permitting in a State or federally declared drought emergency. Requires the Secretary, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of the Interior, and the Administrator to: (1) jointly conduct a rulemaking proceeding to review and revise, as necessary, the existing technical method for the delineation of wetlands; and (2) report to the Congress on the estimated acreage of wetlands in each region of the United States to be identified as wetlands pursuant to such rule. Directs the Secretary, the Secretary of the Interior, and the Administrator to jointly develop methods for the assessment of wetlands functions and values. Requires the Secretary to report biennially to the Congress on the effects on wetlands of activities conducted under permits. Revises administrative provisions regarding State permit programs for activities in navigable waters. Requires States with approved permit programs to report biannually to the Administrator. Sets forth procedures concerning the withdrawal of program approval. Authorizes the Administrator to audit programs to ensure that States are achieving the policy set forth in this Act. Provides that permits shall require measures to avoid adverse effects on navigable waters caused by permitted activities and to minimize effects that cannot be avoided. Requires permittees to: (1) conduct mitigation and compensate for adverse effects for which measures are not practicable by restoring degraded wetlands or creating new wetlands; (2) redeem an appropriate number of credits issued under the wetlands mitigation banking system established under this Act; or (3) perform a combination of such requirements. Authorizes the Administrator, upon appeal by an applicant for a permit for construction of a building associated with a residence or for minor expansions or repairs that adversely affect less than three acres of wetlands, to issue a permit or modify mitigation requirements if the applicant demonstrates that: (1) the applicant has owned the property on which the activity requiring a permit will occur for three or more consecutive years; and (2) the denial of the permit or a failure to reduce the mitigation required would cause significant financial hardship. Permits the Secretary to require a payment as mitigation for impacts to navigable waters resulting from an activity conducted under a general permit. Directs the Secretary, the Administrator, and the Secretary of the Interior to jointly issue rules establishing a wetlands mitigation banking system. Requires such system to provide for the issuance of credits by the Secretary or a State with an approved permit program or wetlands conservation plan to any person who: (1) creates wetlands; (2) restores or enhances degraded wetlands; or (3) creates, restores, or enhances uplands that serve as buffer zones to protect or enhance wetlands. Provides for the establishment of: (1) requirements for the issuance and redemption of credits under the system; (2) standards for determining the number of credits to be issued; and (3) requirements to ensure the security of the long-term ownership interests of wetlands and uplands on which projects are conducted for credits and to protect the wetlands values of such wetlands and uplands. Authorizes the transfer of credits under the system. Exempts from this title's requirements: (1) activities for which a significant alteration of land or navigable waters is commenced before this Act's enactment date; or (2) activities approved at specific sites before May 21, 1991.
Wetlands Planning and Preservation
Authorizes the Administrator, jointly with a State that has made progress in completing a wetlands conservation plan, to conduct advanced planning by identifying navigable waters in the State that are suitable or unsuitable for activities for which permits are issued under this Act. Permits the Administrator to authorize certain local governments and areawide planning agencies designated under the Demonstration Cities and Metropolitan Development Act of 1966 to identify such waters, subject to certain requirements. Requires the Administrator to make publicly available maps depicting such waters which indicate: (1) waters suitable and unsuitable for permitted activities; and (2) the wetlands functions of such waters. Directs the Administrator to make grants to States or to such local governments and agencies for identifying and describing navigable waters. Bases eligibility for such grants on the value and threat of degradation, destruction, or loss of wetlands. Requires the Secretary of the Interior to: (1) identify, map, and digitize wetlands that should be given priority because of their high value, the threat of their loss, destruction, or degradation or lack of existing or adequate maps; and (2) identify all areas under consideration for advanced planning. Authorizes State Governors to submit State wetlands conservation plans to the Administrator for approval. Sets forth plan requirements and approval procedures. Authorizes the Administrator, the Secretary, or the Secretary of the Interior, upon the request of a State, to provide technical assistance for plan development. Requires the Administrator, based on need, to provide financial assistance to States for the development and implementation of such plans. Directs the Secretary of the Interior to establish a program to promote the conservation and wise stewardship of wetlands and riparian lands on private property. Requires the program to provide assistance to private landowners for: (1) conserving wetlands and riparian lands; (2) enhancing wildlife and fisheries habitat; and (3) developing economic uses of wetlands which will not degrade wetlands. Authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to enter into agreements with respect to the conservation of such lands. Requires the Secretary of the Interior to present annual Wetlands for Wildlife Awards to individuals who have made a substantial contribution to the conservation and wise stewardship of wetlands and riparian lands.
House Republican Conference Summary
The summary below was written by the House Republican Conference, which is the caucus of Republicans in the House of Representatives.
No summary available.
House Democratic Caucus Summary
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