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The Associated Press April 27, 2011, 5:12PM ET

Feds issue guidelines for protecting waterways

The Obama administration has issued guidelines designed to clarify which streams, wetlands and other waterways are protected from pollution under the Clean Water Act.

After the law was enacted in 1972, federal agencies interpreted it as allowing them to regulate virtually any waters. But two Supreme Court cases in the past decade limited the government's reach, although the rulings were confusing.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers released a 39-page guidebook Wednesday that is meant to provide clearer instructions to regulators.

EPA chief Lisa Jackson says it will bring more predictability for businesses considering whether to develop in wetlands or other sensitive areas while ensuring that polluters are held accountable.

Jackson says the guidelines will take effect after a public comment period.

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