The Mythology of Mitigation Banking
8 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2016
Date Written: March 1, 2016
The Clean Water Act aims to restore and maintain the integrity of U.S. waters, which include wetlands — those land forms once referred to as swamps, bogs, prairie potholes, or some other negatively connoted term. Wetlands are ecologically and economically important. The federal regime for protecting them, however, has failed its pursuit of “no net loss” of wetlands. Mitigation banking has become the preferred mechanism for mitigating wetlands loss, despite repeated studies showing mitigation banks fail to replace the lost natural ecosystems. This paper explores the complex wetlands protection regime in the United States, then compares results in steady-state Ohio wetlands, a best case scenario for mitigation banking, with the nation’s largest (and most at risk) wetlands — those on Louisiana’s coast. It concludes that mitigation banking on Louisiana’s coast is likely to result in massive destruction and loss of the fragile coastal ecosystem.
Keywords: wetlands, mitigation, mitigation bank, clean water act, louisiana, ohio, coast, no net loss
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