The Environmental Protection Agency today issued new wetlands-protection rules with a focus on “mitigation banking”— creating marshes elsewhere in compensation for those destroyed by development, the AP reports. The EPA argues that mitigation banking ensures the most overall wetlands protection because wetlands are often irrevocably damaged by construction, rendering on-site measures to offset the loss useless.
Environmentalists worry that the regulations will ultimately prove harmful, as “the cheaper it is to mitigate, the more economic it is to buy land that has wetlands on it and destroy them," said National Wildlife Federation expert. Wetlands are often crucial to local ecosystems, critics say, and creating new ones miles away is often of little benefit. (Read more wetlands stories.)