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SC fights proposed federal wetlands regulation

COLUMBIA (AP) — South Carolina officials oppose a federal proposal for new regulations to protect some streams and wetlands.

Gov. Nikki Haley and Attorney General Alan Wilson want the federal government to drop plans for new rules they say could restrict development, The State newspaper (http://bit.ly/1rieu8w) reported.

The rule is an attempt by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to restore some protections to intermittent streams and isolated wetlands that were overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court 13 years ago.

Haley and Wilson have joined in a letter that says the EPA’s rule would be a burden for average property owners. The letter says that no water or occasional wetlands would be safe from federal regulation.

Critics say the rule could mean that roadside ditches and farm ponds could fall under federal regulation.

Wilson said in a statement Thursday that the new rules could have “a catastrophic impact on South Carolina’s economy.”

“Farmers would suddenly be burdened by excessive red tape. County governments would be straddled by costly regulations. These onerous regulations would treat a simple drainage ditch the same as ‘navigable water’ such as the Mississippi River,” he said.

Environmental groups criticized Haley and Wilson, saying the rule is needed to protect wildlife, control flooding and cleanse polluted storm water.

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