WASHINGTON, June 9 - The administration of the president Joe Biden announced on Wednesday that it intends to protect more U.S. waterways through environmental regulations and reinstate a Trump-era rollback that had been urged by farmers, ranchers and manufacturers.
The department of the Army and the United States Environmental Protection Agency reviewed the 2014 Navigable Waters Protection Rule and determined that it significantly reduced clean water protections - a major concern as arid states in the west face droughts.
After reviewing the significant environmental protection rule as directed by President Biden, the EPA and Department of the Army have determined that this rule is leading to the navigation of the environment, said EPA Administrator Michael Regan in a press release.
He said EPA and the army would work on a broader, durable definition of which waters of the United States can be protected based on Supreme Court precedent and other cases so that it can withstand future legal challenges.
The agencies also will begin a new rulemaking process that restores the protections that were put in place before 2015.
In their review of the Trump rule, the agencies found that in New Mexico and Arizona, nearly all of the more than 1500 streams assessed were unprotected and 333 projects did not otherwise have required federal permits.
Farmers, ranchers and big industry companies supported the Trump rollbacks, saying that earlier definitions of which waterways should be protected were overly dry - in some cases covering streams that were completely broad.
Some 14 states, including New York and California, had sued the Trump EPA over the rollback because they said it would end federal protection for half of nation's wetlands and 15% of streams across the nation.
'We are urging the EPA to extend full Water Act protections to all nation’s waters,' said Julian Gonzalez, working legal counsel for healthy communities at the environmental group Earthjustice. What do you think?