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Ten Years of the Compensatory Mitigation Rule: Reflections on Progress and Opportunities

January 2019

Citation: 49 ELR 10018

Issue: 1

Author: Palmer Hough and Rachel Harrington

In 2008, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) overhauled federal policy governing how impacts to wetlands, streams, and other aquatic resources authorized under §404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) are offset—an action known as compensatory mitigation. On the 10-year anniversary of the Corps/EPA Compensatory Mitigation Rule, it is important to highlight this progress as well as some potential important work that remains to be done. This Comment reviews the major policy changes that were a part of the 2008 rule, highlights key areas of progress in compensatory mitigation practice documented under the 2008 rule, and notes some potential opportunities for further improvement.

Palmer Hough is an Environmental Scientist with more than 20 years of experience working on compensatory mitigation issues in the Clean Water Act (CWA) §404 regulatory program. Hough was the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) lead author on the 2008 Compensatory Mitigation Rule, which was developed jointly with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He serves as EPA’s national lead on wetland, stream, and other aquatic resource mitigation. Rachel Harrington is an Aquatic Ecologist with more than eight years of experience conducting field-based monitoring and assessment research. Harrington recently spent two years in the CWA §404 regulatory program studying implementation of compensatory mitigation policy. She currently works on CWA jurisdiction in EPA’s Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds.

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