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EPA ANNOUNCES NEW DEVELOPMENTS REGARDING THE PROPOSED REVISIONS TO WETLANDS MANUAL

 EPA ANNOUNCES NEW DEVELOPMENTS REGARDING THE PROPOSED REVISIONS
 TO WETLANDS MANUAL
 NEW YORK, Dec. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced several new developments regarding the proposed revisions to the "Federal Manual for Identifying and Delineating Jurisdictional Wetlands," which are published in today's Federal Register.
 First, an additional 30-day public comment period has been provided on the proposed revisions to the Federal Manual. The public may now submit comments through Jan. 21, 1992. The proposed changes to the manual were originally published in the Federal Register on Aug. 14, 1991, opening a 60-day public comment period that was later extended until Dec. 14.
 Second, all national field test results of the proposed changes to the manual are now publicly available. The national set of data forms (approximately 10,000 pages for $1,500) can be obtained from EPA's Wetlands Docket, at 202-260-6071.
 Third, EPA, the Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Soil Conservation Service announce a proposed rule to incorporate portions of the manual into the regulations governing federal wetland protection programs. Under the proposed rule, EPA, the Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Soil Conservation Service would maintain their current regulatory definition of wetlands. A new section would be added to the agencies' regulations that would describe the identifying characteristics of wetlands by incorporating the central components of the proposed changes to the manual.
 This proposal reflects the content and structure of the proposed changes to the manual. It contains the criteria for determining the presence of the three necessary wetland elements, hydrology, vegetation and hydric soils. The proposed rule also identifies those types of wetlands that are treated as exceptions, problem areas and disturbed areas in a manner consistent with the proposed changes.
 The proposed rule reflects only the revisions to the manual proposed on Aug. 14, 1991, and does not respond to any of the public comments already received regarding the proposed manual. The final regulations will be consistent with the final manual adopted by the agencies after all the comments on the manual and the proposed regulations are carefully considered and evaluated.
 In addition, the Army Corps of Engineers is proposing to amend the Code of Federal Regulations to include the entire federal manual, when finalized, as an appendix to its regulations.
 The 30-day public comment period on the proposed regulation will correspond to the additional comment period on the proposed changes to the manual, lasting from today until Jan. 21, 1992. Comments previously submitted on the proposed manual do not have to be resubmitted for consideration on the proposed regulation. Similarly, any comments received on the proposed regulation will be considered when the agencies finalize the manual.
 Written comments on the proposed changes to the manual and on the proposed regulation should be sent to: Gregory Peck, chief, Wetlands and Aquatic Resources Regulatory Branch, (A-104-F), U.S. EPA, 401 M St. S.W., Washington, D.C. 20460. Copies of the proposed revised manual can be obtained from EPA's Wetlands Protection Hotline, at 800-832-7828.
 Finally, a Wetlands Docket has been established that includes public comments on the proposed changes to the manual, data from the field tests, technical references relating to wetland characteristics and other technical issues that are relevant to the manual. The docket is open to the public and is located at:
 EPA- Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds
 499 South Capitol St., S.W.
 Room 714
 Washington, D.C. 20003
 202-260-6071
 For more information, contact Sean McElheny at 202-260-1387.
 -0- 12/19/91
 /CONTACT: Sean McElheny of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 202-260-1387/ CO: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ST: New York, New Jersey IN: SU:


KD-OS -- NY077 -- 4089 12/19/91 16:38 EST
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Date:Dec 19, 1991
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