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Earth Day Climate To-Do's

Earth Day Climate

Make a difference this Earth Day by doing something to minimize climate change - EPA is posting 30 daily activities to act on climate, posted daily through April. Check out all of the tips at http://epa.gov/earthday/actonclimate/

Stay posted to the Southeast Regional Climate Hub (SERCH) http://globalchange.ncsu.edu/serch/

EPA and Army Corps of Engineers Clarify Protection for Nation's Streams and Wetlands

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have 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. Determining Clean Water Act protection for streams and wetlands became confusing and complex following Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006. The proposed rule is available at: http://www2.epa.gov/uswaters.

For nearly a decade, members of Congress, state and local officials, industry, agriculture, environmental groups, and the public asked for a rulemaking to provide clarity. The proposed rule clarifies protection for streams and wetlands. It does not protect any new types of waters that have not historically been covered under the Clean Water Act and is consistent with the Supreme Court's more narrow reading of Clean Water Act jurisdiction.

"We are clarifying protection for the upstream waters that are absolutely vital to downstream communities," said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.

Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) Jo-Ellen Darcy said that, "Today's rulemaking will better protect our aquatic resources, by strengthening the consistency, predictability, and transparency of our jurisdictional determinations. The rule's clarifications will result in a better public service nationwide."

The health of rivers, lakes, bays, and coastal waters depend on the streams and wetlands where they begin. About 60 percent of stream miles in the U.S. only flow seasonally or after rain, but have a considerable impact on the downstream waters. Approximately 117 million people - one in three Americans - get drinking water from public systems that rely in part on these streams. These are important waterways for which EPA and the Army Corps is clarifying protection.

Specifically, the proposed rule clarifies that under the Clean Water Act and based on the science:

  • Most seasonal and rain-dependent streams are protected.
  • Wetlands near rivers and streams are protected.
  • Other types of waters may have more uncertain connections with downstream water and protection will be evaluated through a case specific analysis of whether the connection is or is not significant.

The proposed rule will be open for public comment for 90 days from publication in the Federal Register. The interpretive rule for agricultural activities is effective immediately.

Measuring Sprawl 2014

Smart Growth America has just published Measuring Sprawl 2014 - www.smartgrowthamerica.org/documents/measuring-sprawl-2014.pdf a comprehensive analysis of urban development in every major metro region across the country. New York is the most compact and Hickory, North Carolina is the most sprawling. Seven of the "most sprawling metro areas nationally" were in the Southeast.

While sprawl can degrade the quality of rivers and streams, put pressure on limited water supplies, and reduce the area of valuable forests and habitat, it also impacts human health and economic mobility.

Measuring Sprawl

The report looks at development patterns in 221 metropolitan areas and their counties, and evaluates which are the least and most sprawling communities in the country. The research found that people in compact, connected communities:

  • Have greater upward economic mobility
  • Spend less on the combined expenses of housing and transportation
  • Choose to use transit and walk more
  • Live longer
  • Have fewer fatal car crashes
  • Have lower body mass index.

The report showcases how Smart Growth strategies can save public funds and support regional economies while also helping individuals live longer, healthier, more prosperous lives.



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