There is one summary. Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Introduced in House (03/07/1991)

Comprehensive Wetlands Conservation and Management Act of 1991 - Amends the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to revise provisions concerning permits for dredged or fill material. Prohibits, unless such activity is undertaken pursuant to a permit issued by the Secretary of the Army: (1) the discharge of dredged or fill material into U.S. waters; or (2) the draining, channelization, or excavation of wetlands. Authorizes the Secretary to issue permits for such activities. Sets forth permit application procedures.

Requires the Secretary, upon receiving applications, to: (1) classify as Type A wetlands wetlands that are of critical significance to the long-term conservation of the ecosystem of which they are a part and which meet specified requirements; (2) classify as Type B wetlands wetlands that provide habitat for a significant population of avian, aquatic, or wetland dependent wildlife or provide other significant wetlands functions; and (3) classify as Type C wetlands wetlands that serve marginal functions but exist in such abundance that regulation of activities is not necessary to conserve wetlands values and functions, or are prior converted cropland, fastlands, or wetlands within intensely developed areas that do not serve significant wetlands functions. Directs the Secretary to notify a permit applicant of the classification.

Permits owners of interests in Type A wetlands to seek compensation for the fair market value of such lands. Provides that title for such lands shall pass to the United States upon acceptance of an offer for compensation. Deems such takings to be takings of surface interests in lands only or water rights allocated under State law unless the Secretary determines that the exploration for, or development of, oil and gas or mineral interests is not compatible with conservation of the surface interests in lands that have been classified as Type A wetlands. Authorizes the Secretary to classify such interests as Type A wetlands and to notify the owner that he may receive compensation. Sets forth provisions concerning court jurisdiction and remedies for taking of interests.

Requires the Secretary to deny a permit authorizing activities in Type A wetlands unless: (1) such activities can be undertaken with minimal alteration or surface disturbance; (2) there are overriding public interest concerns that require use of the lands for purposes other than conservation; or (3) the proposed use of the land will result in overall environmental benefits. Authorizes the Secretary to issue a permit for activities in Type B wetlands subject to conditions that ensure that the watershed or aquatic ecosystem of which such wetlands are a part does not suffer loss or degradation of wetlands values or functions. Imposes requirements for mitigation when such activities result in the permanent loss or degradation of Type B wetlands where such loss or degradation is not a temporary or incidental impact.

Directs the Secretary to establish a mitigation banking program in each State to ensure compensation for loss and degradation of wetlands. Requires the primary objective of such programs to be to provide for the restoration, enhancement, or creation of ecologically significant wetlands on an ecosystem basis. Sets forth requirements of such programs. Permits activities in Type C wetlands to be undertaken without specified authorization.

Authorizes the Secretary to issue general permits on a State, regional, or nationwide basis for activities in wetlands if such activities are similar in nature and will not result in the significant loss of ecologically significant wetlands values and functions.

Exempts specified activities from this Act's requirements.

Permits States or political subdivisions to submit land management plans for identified wetlands for the Secretary's approval.

Authorizes and directs the Secretary to establish standards that govern the delineation of lands as wetlands. Prohibits more than 20 percent of any county, parish, or borough from being classified as Type A wetlands.

Requires the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to undertake a project to identify and classify U.S. wetlands. Provides for public participation in such project and makes information concerning identification and classification available to the public.

Authorizes the Secretary to commence civil actions for permit violations. Prescribes civil penalties for such violations.

Authorizes States to administer permit programs for activities covered by this Act, subject to the Secretary's approval.