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Bush rule threatens Georgia wetlands

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Thanks to bulldozing, clear-cutting and earth-moving, a full 23 percent of Georgia's wetlands have been destroyed, according to federal statistics. Now, thanks to George W. Bush, Georgia's remaining 5.3 million acres are in jeopardy.

Last week, the Bush administration announced changes to the Clean Water Act, which for 30 years has offered at least some protection to wetlands across America. The changes would strip wetlands of their federal protection under the Act. Responsibility would shift to the state, which, in Georgia's case, doesn't mean much: The state has no wetland protection program of its own.

Wetlands filter pollution, absorb floodwaters, and are home to romantic rendezvous spots for endangered amphibians and migratory birds.

Real estate developers and the construction companies stand to gain the most from the rule change. Nationwide, 20 million acres of wetlands would lose federal protection from development and industrial pollution if Bush's proposals are enacted. Georgia's wetland acreage comprises 5.3 million acres of the state's land mass.

Perhaps not surprisingly, developers and the construction industry donated more than $4 million to the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Bush's proposed rules could become permanent as soon as this summer.

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