Author: vmesserly

Immediately upon his inauguration on Jan. 20, President Biden signed 17 Executive Orders (EOs), some of which reversed decisions made by the Trump administration while others delayed the implementation of pending regulatory changes. While these EOs target a response to COVID-19, financial relief for Americans, human rights, immigration and ethics, three EOs targeted issues with regard to our environment, including the pending Nationwide Permits as well as the previously adopted Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. Below is a summary of these orders:

Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis

This Executive Order establishes the Biden administration’s commitment to immediately work to confront both the causes and impacts of climate change by implementing policy guided by science. The order rolls back many actions taken by the previous administration to loosen environmental standards and protections that may be inconsistent with Biden’s articulated policy.

Specific actions targeted for review include Waters of the United States (now called Navigable Waters Protection Rule) which went into effect on June 22, 2020 and the 2021 Final Nationwide Permits (NWP) which expire on March 18, 2022.

Modernizing Regulatory Review

This Executive Order directs the Director of the OMB to begin evaluating the processes and principles that govern regulatory review to ensure swift and effective federal action. The goal is to produce a set of recommendations for improving and modernizing regulatory review. This EO states that recommendations should consider ways that the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) can play proactive role in partnering with agencies to undertake regulatory initiatives.

Revocation of Certain Executive Orders Concerning Federal Regulation

This Executive Order directs the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and agency heads to rescind any orders, rules, regulations, etc. that impede the federal government’s ability to confront urgent challenges facing our nation including the COVID-19 pandemic, economic recovery, racial justice or climate change.

President Biden also issued a memorandum declaring a Regulatory Freeze Pending Review. This directive places a freeze on all new regulations put in motion by the previous administration to give his administration time to evaluate which ones it wants to move forward on. This minimum 60-day postponement on implementation of any rules that have not yet taken effect include the final 2021 NWPs which are set to expire on March 18, 2022. In addition, the Ohio EPA released a public notice of the draft of Section 401 Water Quality Certifications for the proposed 2020 NWPs on Dec. 16, 2020 with a comment period set to expire on Feb. 11, 2021. The pause outlined in this memorandum could affect any further movement on the NWPs.

The Stream + Wetlands team is currently reviewing these Executive Orders, will continue to monitor activities surrounding their impact and are available to discuss how they could affect your projects.

Author: vmesserly

Stream + Wetlands (formerly Ohio Wetlands Foundation) is a proud supporter of the planned wetland restoration project on the Lancaster Sensory Trail.  The project will include a boardwalk structure that will surround the proposed 1.2-acre wetland. The boardwalk will make it possible for limited-mobility trail users and students from Forest Rose School (which is adjacent to the site) enjoy the restored wetland and the wildlife utilizing it.

The Friends of the Lancaster Sensory Trail, an established not-for-profit group, has completed the multi-use sensory trail that is an extension of the Lancaster bike path, and the largest universally accessible tree house in Ohio. Both projects were completed with donations, grants and in-kind assistance. For more information, click here.

Author: vmesserly

Stream + Wetlands’ President Vince Messerly was interviewed for a recent article in the Cincinnati Enquirer about the cost of wetlands mitigation. The article, which ran on Oct. 2, discussed how the cost to replace wetlands, a federal requirement, is viewed by some to be an expensive endeavor. To read the article in its entirety, click here.

Author: vmesserly

Stream + Wetlands (formerly Ohio Wetlands)  is pleased to announce approval of our In-Lieu-Fee Program (ILFP) for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Pittsburgh District. In May, OWF received approval for the ILFP covering the Upper Scioto and Tuscarawas watershed in the Huntington Corps District. The Pittsburgh District comprises part of eastern Ohio while the Huntington District encompasses 45,000 square miles in parts of five states, including the majority of Ohio. Prior to these approvals, these districts had very few options for wetland mitigation credits as many existing mitigation banks have few or no available credits. This authorization will assist permit applicants in these Districts with their mitigation needs.

 

Author: vmesserly

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. EPA have extended the end date for submitting comments on the new Waters of the U.S. definition to October 20, 2014. The public comment period was originally scheduled to end on July 21, 2014.  Click here for more details.

 

Author: vmesserly

Stream + Wetlands (formerly Ohio Wetlands) is pleased to announce approval of our In-Lieu-Fee Program (ILFP) for the Huntington Corps District. Approval for the Ohio portion of the Pittsburgh Corps District is still pending. Contact Vince Messerly for information about purchasing credits.

 

 

Author: vmesserly

Successful compensatory wetland mitigation projects are critical for the biological and water quality health of our nation’s watersheds. In a recent article published in the National Wetlands Newsletter, Stream + Wetlands’ President Vince Messerly and Greg Snowden, biologist/project manager at The Davey Tree Expert Company, discuss the ecological performance of two adjacent wetland mitigation banks and the importance of designing mitigation and restoration projects toward natural reference standards. Click here to read the entire article.

Author: vmesserly

The EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers’ long-awaited proposed rule redefining “waters of the U.S.” was published on April 21 in the Federal Register. The agencies have provided a 90-day comment period on the proposed rule, with comments due on July 21. While the proposed rule is widely expected to be identical to the pre-publication version of the draft rule released on EPA’s website on March 25, 2014, Stream + Wetlands (formerly Ohio Wetlands Foundation) will be comparing both documents to identify and alert you to any substantive changes that may have occurred.

Author: vmesserly

Karl Gebhardt was recently named the new chief for the Division of Surface Water and deputy director of water resources by Ohio EPA Director Craig W. Butler. Gebhardt recently served as the ODNR deputy director and was the point person for water quality and water resource issues. Prior to that, he was chief of ODNR’s Division of Soil and Water Resources, where he provided leadership to expand on-the-ground conservation practices and develop legislation that would help in the efficient and effective delivery of conservation programs for nutrient management.

Author: vmesserly

On March 25, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) jointly released a proposed rule to clarify protection under the Clean Water Act for streams and wetlands that form the foundation of the nation’s water resources. Over the next 90 days, the agencies are launching an outreach effort, holding discussions around the country and gathering input. The proposed rule clarifies protection for streams and wetlands. The proposed definitions of waters will apply to all Clean Water Act programs.

As Ohio currently has a robust isolated wetland permitting program (Ohio Revised Code Chapter 6111) already in place, this new ruling will not affect Ohio as much as it will states that do not currently have a strong permitting program. Stream + Wetlands Foundation will continue to monitor the status of this new ruling and will provide updates as necessary.

Messerly featured in mitigation article

Stream + Wetlands’ President Vince Messerly was interviewed for a recent article in the Cincinnati Enquirer about the cost of wetlands mitigation. The article, which ran on Oct. 2, discussed

In-Lieu-Fee Program Approved

Stream + Wetlands (formerly Ohio Wetlands) is pleased to announce approval of our In-Lieu-Fee Program (ILFP) for the Huntington Corps District. Approval for the Ohio portion of the Pittsburgh Corps