EPA: The Circ Highway Too Destructive of Vermont Wetlands

Louis Porter

In a boost for clean air and clean water, the mismanaged and ill-conceived Circ highway planned for Vermont’s Chittenden County faces a potentially fatal blow.  The head of EPA in New England described the project as environmentally devastating.

“Even if the mitigation were fully implemented, the proposed project would cause or contribute to significant degradation of waters of the U.S. in violation” of federal law and should not be permitted, according to the EPA.

The EPA concluded the highway “will have a substantial and unacceptable impact on aquatic resources of national importance,” in that December letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a more forceful follow-up to the original letter and assessment EPA sent on November 15.  EPA makes a strong argument against issuing the environmental permits needed for the largest single destruction of wetlands in Vermont’s history.

EPA’s objections are bolstered by the support of a diverse coalition of organizations in Vermont, including CLF.  If the Corps issues permits despite these objections the EPA could block those permits with a veto.

CLF continues to support cleaner, lower cost and more effective solutions in place of a new highway that damages or eliminates hundreds of acres of wetlands, increases sprawl development, contributes to global climate change, wastes limited public funds and fails to meet modern transportation needs.   At a cost of tens of millions of dollars, the Circ only saves four minutes of travel time and offers less relief from traffic congestion in the areas most troubled traffic spots compared to cleaner and lower cost solutions that modernize existing roadways.

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