June 11, 2021: -On Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army announced their intent to expand the number of waterways that receive protection regarding the Clean Water Act.
The move would reverse a rule adopted in the previous year by the Trump administration, limiting the bodies of water that can receive federal protection. Instead, the Biden administration wants to expand protections to smaller waterways like streams, ditches, and wetlands that feed into bigger bodies of water.
In a statement, EPA Administrator Michael Regan said that the Trump administration policy had led to “huge environmental degradation.”
The EPA and the Army said they discovered that the Trump rule reduced clean water protections, a significant issue as the U.S. West grapples with a severe drought and water supply shortages.
The agencies found that almost all more than 1,500 streams assessed were non-jurisdictional and unable to receive protection from the federal government in Mexico and Arizona.
Jaime Pinkham, acting assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works, said the Trump rule led to a 25% reduction in “determinations of waters that would otherwise be afforded protection.”
The rule adopted under Trump, known as the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, reversed a previous attempt by the Obama administration to provide a more expansive definition of “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act.
According to a press release, the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers will consider the latest science and impact of climate change on U.S. waters during the new rulemaking process.
“We are committed to establishing a durable definition of ‘waters of the United States based on Supreme Court precedent and drawing from the lessons learned from the current and previous regulations,” Regan said.
According to the release, the Department of Justice is now filing a motion requesting a remand of the rule.