Summary: H.R.4255 — 102nd Congress (1991-1992)All Information (Except Text)

There is one summary for H.R.4255. Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Introduced in House (02/19/1992)

Wetlands Reform Act of 1992 - Title I: Amendments to the Federal Water Pollution Control Act - Amends the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to make any pollutant discharge or alteration of navigable waters unlawful. Revises certification requirements for persons seeking to conduct activities which may result in discharges or other alterations of navigable waters to provide State certifications that such activities will allow for the protection, achievement, and maintenance of designated uses included in water quality standards.

Authorizes the issuance of permits for other alterations of navigable waters. Defines "other alterations" as activities which impair the flow, reach, or circulation of surface water, or which result in changes in the hydrologic regime, bottom contour, or configuration of the waters or in the type, distribution, or diversity of vegetation.

Revises provisions concerning general permits for the discharge of dredged or fill material into, or other alteration of, navigable waters. Prohibits authorization for an activity within a State that has denied or revoked a water quality certification for such activity. Provides for biennial review of permits and revision or revocation to avoid or minimize adverse effects on navigable waters and for reports to the Congress.

Directs the Secretary of the Army, acting through the Chief of Engineers, to establish a special Fast Track team in each district office to expedite the review and processing of minor permits.

Prohibits the issuance of permits if there is a practical alternative to the proposed activity that would have less adverse impact on navigable waters. Requires all adverse impacts to wetlands and other U.S. waters to be fully mitigated to achieve full restoration of the functions and values lost.

Applies exemptions from permit requirements for agricultural and certain other activities to other alterations of navigable water that occur as a result of such activities.

Directs the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Secretary of the Army to promulgate final regulations determining the circumstances under which discharges of dredged or fill material or other alterations of navigable waters which were converted to production of commodity crops prior to December 23, 1985, shall be exempt from permit requirements.

Authorizes citizen suits for violations of general permits or permit conditions.

Title II: Other Provisions - Directs the Comptroller General to submit to the Congress an analysis of needs of the Corps of Engineers and EPA for additional personnel, administrative resources, and funding to improve implementation of the wetlands permit program. Requires funds to be used for: (1) the training and certification of wetlands delineators authorized by the Water Resources Development Act of 1990; and (2) the improvement of existing education and outreach programs of the Corps of Engineers or EPA regarding wetlands permitting.

Requires the Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service to use funds for wetlands mapping and for the delineation of wetlands in watersheds and ecosystems for which the need for delineation is particularly acute. Provides for the update of existing maps at least once every 15 years.

Directs the Administrator to contract for an independent study of the scientific basis for wetlands identification and delineation to be conducted by the National Academy of Sciences. Requires such study to specifically address the scientific bases of certain Federal manuals for identifying and delineating wetlands and to recommend appropriate scientific methods and procedures for identification and delineation. Provides for the submission of study results to specified congressional committees. Prohibits revisions to or clarifications of the Federal Manual for Identifying and Delineating Jurisdictional Wetlands or regulations related to the definition, delineation, or identification of wetlands until the study has been completed.

Title III: Wetlands Restoration Pilot Program - Directs the Secretary to initiate a pilot program of wetlands restoration.