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Politics & Government

Bill seeks to strengthen state wetlands protections

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Delaware Public Media
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One state lawmaker is seeking to counter a federal government order narrowing clean water protections nationwide.

State Senator Stephanie Hansen (D-Middletown) wetlands protections bill would amend Delaware’s Wetlands Act mirroring rules found in the Clean Water Act of 1972 and Obama-era regulations in the 2015 Clean Water Rule.

"What it basically says is those federal regulations, the substance of those federal regulations is still going to be in place, is still going to be enforced but it will now be enforced at the state level and this legislation is really meant as a discussion point," Hansen said.

Hansen adds she knows the bill is controversial, and she says she hopes it spurs conversation at Legislative Hall and throughout the state.

"There are many people that believe that our non tidal wetlands weren't regulated nearly enough under the federal standard and then there are other people that believe that the regulation of non-tidal wetlands under the federal standard was way too restrictive," Hansen said. "I anticipate this to cause a lot of discussion and it should."

Hansen wants to signal that this issue is on the General Assembly’s radar, and lawmakers don’t want to roll back these regulations.

Delaware is the only Mid-Atlantic state without state-level protections for non-tidal wetlands. Those waters include marshes, swamps, wet meadows, and shallow margins and headwaters of streams, rivers and other bodies of water previously protected by regulations from the EPA. 

The rollback of regulations by the Trump Administration begins on June 22 according to Hansen.

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