Under the Dome

Lawsuit threatened over wetlands ditches

An environmental organization is prepared to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for what it claims is the agencies’ failure to protect 251 acres of wetland in Pamlico County.

The N.C. Coastal Federation has notified the agencies of its intent to sue under the Clean Water Act’s provision that allows citizens to bring suit if regulatory agencies haven’t done their job. It’s the argument that the Southern Environmental Law Center has advanced against North Carolina regulators over coal ash cleanup. The SELC is representing the coastal federation, too.

The notice triggers a 60-day period in which the agencies can sue instead of the environmentalists.

The wetlands is part of the 4,600-acre Atlas Tract, and protect waters that flow into the Bay River and Neuse River.

Todd Miller, executive director of the federation, said his organization hopes to slow the loss of wetlands. The SELC says ditches that have been dug into the wetlands are illegal because permits were never issued for them.