EPA offers state money for water

Sunday, January 12, 2003

The Associated Press

ST. LOUIS -- The Environmental Protection Agency is willing to give Missouri funding to keep a state water-quality program in place through the end of the budgetary year.

The state's Department of Natural Resources eliminated its water-quality certification program on Jan. 2 in order to save $99,000 a year.

In doing so, the state agency surrendered its veto power over federal projects that affect wetlands, rivers and streams.

In the past, the Department of Natural Resources has been able to use its authority through the certification program to force modifications of projects that required a federal permit.

EPA Regional Director James Gulliford said in Saturday's edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the program allows states to play a more active role in the decisions that ultimately affect water quality.

The EPA's decision to temporarily fund the program came Friday after the Department of Natural Resources was criticized for doing away with the program, which is authorized by the Clean Water Act.

The state agency's decision came as Missouri struggles for ways to cut its budget. The Department of Natural Resources already had to cut $1.3 million this year.

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