Audubon Florida is disappointed at the June 30 action by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi joining 26 other states suing the Obama Administration over a new rule clarifying which wetlands and streams are protected under the federal Clean Water Act. Their complaints assert the new U.S. EPA and Army Corps of Engineers rule usurps the states’ authority to protect and manage their own waters.
Audubon Florida strongly supports the new rule which was made necessary by two muddled Supreme Court cases on wetlands in 2001 and 2006. Audubon and other agencies have clearly documented the alarming acceleration of wetland destruction – the first since the 1980’s – since those earlier Court rulings confused the issue of what is a federally protected wetland or water resource.
Florida has now lost over half its wetlands, so it makes no sense for the State to challenge a necessary, science-based wetland clarification while it is also spending hundreds of millions of dollars on restoring wetland ecosystems like the Everglades.
Wetland destruction is why over 90% of the Everglades’ wading birds have vanished – from an estimated 2.5 million birds in 1900 to less than 100,000 today. Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary’s iconic Wood Stork rookery has only produced chicks in only 2 of the last 8 years. Without protection and restoration of wetland ecosystems that these and many other wildlife species depend on, these dire trends will continue.
Audubon Florida will continue to vigorously support this reasonable new rule and hope it survives these short-sighted legal challenges.