chapter  1
6 Pages

Wetlands: a missing piece of the federalism puzzle

Unfortunately, the observation Jeffery Pressman and Aaron Widlavsky made of federal community development programs of that same era, that “… the apparently simple and straightforward is really complex and convoluted” (1973, p. 93), can also be applied to some of the Clean Water Act Amendments. This is specifically true of the relatively obscure, poorly understood, and fairly novel Section 404. Section 404 established the first federal wetland regulatory program in the United States, but this program had three fundamental structural limitations. The Section 404 program itself was only tangentially related to the broad water quality goals of the Clean Water Act; it relied heavily upon pockets of expertise found in several separate national government agencies; and it did not create a distinct role for coordinating with state governments whose assistance would be critical for effective implementation (Butler and Macey, 1996; Stewart, 1977).