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Some Vermont wetlands could be left vulnerable after Supreme Court ruling takes effect

Trees surround wetlands in the dark.
In Vermont, wetlands are protected by state laws. However, not all are included. And with new federal regulations, some could be more vulnerable now.

Federal protections for most of the country's wetlands were lifted Aug. 29 to comply with a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

The decision in Sackett v the Environmental Protection Agency narrows the scope of the 1972 Clean Water Act and limits the EPA's power to regulate waterways and wetlands.

Pat Parentau is a professor at the Vermont Law and Graduate School.

"This really is the most devastating impact on the federal water quality program in the history of the Clean Water Act, so we're talking over 50 years," Parentau says.

It's not clear what the ruling means for Vermont. Many wetlands here are not subject to federal regulation because of state law.

But there may be a catch. Parentau says Vermont law only protects "significant" wetlands.

"So you have this question — is there a category of wetlands in VT that are not covered by the state law, because if they're not covered by the state law, they sure are not gonna be covered by the federal law," Parentau says.

State environmental officials may need to determine if some state waterways could now be vulnerable to developers that weren't before.

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A graduate of NYU with a Master's Degree in journalism, Mitch has more than 20 years experience in radio news. He got his start as news director at NYU's college station, and moved on to a news director (and part-time DJ position) for commercial radio station WMVY on Martha's Vineyard. But public radio was where Mitch wanted to be and he eventually moved on to Boston where he worked for six years in a number of different capacities at member station a Senior Producer, Editor, and fill-in co-host of the nationally distributed Here and Now. Mitch has been a guest host of the national NPR sports program "Only A Game". He's also worked as an editor and producer for international news coverage with Monitor Radio in Boston.
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