Bush Scandals List

208. SCOTUS: Rapanos v. United States (wetland protection)

January 10, 2003, the Bush administration issues guidelines that would exempt up to twenty million acres of "isolated" wetlands and seasonal streams from protection under the Clean Water Act (CWA). This went to court and in Rapanos v. United States June 19, 2006, Kennedy’s opinion was controlling but his definition of what constituted wetlands was unclear. He defined them as those that "alone or in combination with similarly situated lands in the region, significantly affect the chemical, physical, and biological integrity" of the navigable waters covered by the CWA. However, land adjacent to non-navigable tributaries must be decided on a case by case basis. This was a recipe for regulatory mayhem. In September 2006, draft guidelines prepared by the EPA and the Corps of Engineers to address the issues raised by SCOTUS were pulled at the urging of big coal, developers, and cattle ranchers. They were reworked by the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality and re-issued in June 2007 to track more closely with commercial concerns.

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