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Big fights loom over a few words in Obama admin proposal

The Army Corps of Engineers for decades took an expansive view of wetlands protection, using the Constitution's Commerce Clause to claim a federal interest in any marsh, swamp or bog used by migrating birds. But the Supreme Court ended the so-called Migratory Bird Rule in 2001's Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County (SWANCC) v. Army Corps of Engineers, and the corps scrambled for a legal life preserver. The agency fell back on a concept first instituted in 1977, claiming authority over wetlands "adjacent" to navigable waterways. But the meaning of "adjacent" is itself controversial and has become a key point of debate in the wake of the Obama administration's regulatory proposal to extend automatic protection to more streams and wetlands under the 1972 Clean Water Act.

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