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Panama’s President Prevents Construction on Wetlands

A victory for environmentalists, the North American shorebirds, and the wetlands.

Photo of Panama City via Wikimedia Commons

The President of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela signed a bill Monday that banned construction on a 210,000-acre stretch of the wetlands along the Bay of Panama. The law also prohibits logging, the removal of soil, and any other activity that may aversely affect the mangrove swamps, according to the BBC.

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When it Comes to Wetlands, It's Hard to Improve on the Original

A new analysis shows that restored wetlands store less carbon and host a less diverse group of plants and animals than untouched ones.

Before the Revolutionary War, George Washington had a professional interest in wetlands: He invested in a company that planned to drain the Great Dismal Swamp of Virginia and turn it into farmland. For centuries, Washington's attitude was considered the only reasonable one regarding swamps, marshes, peatlands, floodplains, mangroves, fens, potholes, bogs, and other places of muck and slime: They should be avoided or drained for better uses. Only in the past few decades have citizens decided that these areas—what we now call wetlands—did more than sog up perfectly good farmland.

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How an Idaho Couple Wound Up Defending the Nation's Biggest Polluters

The Sacketts say they just wanted to build a lake house. But their case against the EPA could give corporations more leeway to pollute waterways.


The Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday morning in a case that could make it easier for huge corporations to pollute the country’s wetlands, rivers, and lakes—and harder for the Environmental Protection Agency do anything about that. Surprisingly, the party bringing the suit against the EPA is not a big corporation or an industry group. Instead, the case centers instead on an Idaho couple, Chantell and Mike Sackett, who are arguing the EPA has denied them their right to build a house and a shop on their land, which is a protected wetland.

In April 2007, the Sacketts started fixing up a parcel of land they had bought a few years back, in a small development just across the road from Priest Lake, in the northwestern corner of the state. A few days after the couple started filling in the land with gravel, representatives from the EPA told them their property, a wetland, qualified for protection under the Clean Water Act and that, lacking a permit, they would be required to stop construction.

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