The Biden administration is moving to restore environmental protections that were undone by the Trump team. The protections in question relate to water, with the Trump administration having drastically shrunk the range of waterways that were under federal regulatory supervision. That move provided opportunities for essentially unsupervised pollution in areas that had just been protected by federal authorities, but now, Environmental Protection Administration chief Michael Regan says in a new statement that authorities have concluded that the Trump team’s change is “leading to significant environmental degradation.”
As such, the Biden administration “is set to toss out President Donald Trump’s efforts to scale back the number of streams, marshes and other wetlands that fall under federal protection,” The Washington Post explains. The Environmental Protection Administration and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will now be working on the development of new waterway protection guidelines.
The Trump administration had argued that the original framework was too broad and essentially an unnecessary burden on interests like farming and construction, and with the Trump era guidelines in place, at least 333 projects “no longer require” federal water-related permits, as the Post summarizes the Biden administration’s revelations. That’s a potentially staggering scope of possible pollution that suddenly exited federal supervision.
At issue in part is whether waterways that only have visible waters after, say, rainstorms should be under federal supervision. The Trump administration moved away from that idea, but Tom Kiernan, who leads an environmental advocacy group called American Rivers, insists that the “science says those streams and these wetlands are an important part of our clean-water system in the United States and should be protected.” From here, the Biden administration also must formally suspend the Trump administration’s changes to federal water protection policy, besides implementing their replacement protections. Broadly, the Biden administration has sought to prioritize environmental protection, with Biden himself having said that he wants to conserve 30 percent of the nation’s land and waterways by 2030.