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America's 'Radical Elders' continue their work for fairness, justice; SCOTUS upholds law disarming domestic abusers; Workplace adoption benefits help families, communities; Report examines barriers to successful post-prison re-entry in NC.

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A congresswoman celebrates Biden protections for mixed status families, Louisiana's Ten Commandments law faces an inevitable legal challenge, and a senator moves to repeal the strict 19th century anti-obscenity and anti-abortion Comstock Act.

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A Minnesota town claims the oldest rural Pride Festival while rural educators say they need support to teach kids social issues, rural businesses can suffer when dollar stores come to town and prairie states like South Dakota are getting help to protect grasslands.

Does SCOTUS Decision Put AL Wetlands at Risk?

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Tuesday, May 30, 2023   

Wetlands make up one in ten acres in Alabama - and the latest U.S. Supreme Court decision could be putting them at risk by limiting federal protections for wetlands.

Conservation groups say nationwide, 80% of wetlands will now be more vulnerable to pollution and development.

The high court ruled that federal Clean Water Act protections don't apply to wetlands unless they're connected year-round to a navigable body of water.

Attorney Alex Funk, director of water resources and senior counsel for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, said he is convinced the decision bodes ill for the environment, from clean water to wildlife.

"The court's decision significantly undermines both the congressional intent and what the Clean Water Act was set up to do," said Funk. "Over 50 years now the Clean Water Act has protected American families and communities from pollution resulting from the destruction of wetlands, that also support fish and wildlife habitat."

Backers of the decision say it strengthens private property rights. The Environmental Protection Agency was sued by an Idaho couple, the Sacketts, who were prevented from building on their land due to the presence of wetlands.

Moving forward, Funk said he's concerned about what the high court's decision may signal for other environmental policies.

In a 2018 survey by the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, more than 90% of sportsmen and women said they are in favor of strong federal protections for wetlands and headwaters.

Funk said he thinks it should now be a priority to reinstate these protections.

"There's just clear support for Congress and states to take steps now to address this, the problem created by the Sackett decision," said Funk. "So, everything from, increasing funding - potentially in the upcoming Farm Bill - for voluntary wetland conservation programs, to some of the state-level efforts to working with members of Congress to adopt federal legislation."

The U.S. Geological Survey says Alabama's wetland acreage has decreased by half over the past two centuries, with a combination of agriculture, commercial and residential development, and coastal dredging.



Disclosure: Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Endangered Species & Wildlife, Environment, Public Lands/Wilderness. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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