Biden Administration Seeks More Protection for Wetlands

In a reversal from Trump-era policy, the Biden administration wants to reinstate protections that prevent the contamination of streams and waterways.

1 minute read

June 27, 2021, 5:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Klamath River

The Klamath River where it meets the Pacific Ocean in Northern California. | Jairo Rene Leiva / Shutterstock

After President Trump rolled back protections for streams and wetlands, "the Biden administration is wading into a decades-long battle over how far federal officials can go to stop contaminants from entering small streams and other wetlands" by calling for "a new set of protections for waterways that provide habitats for wildlife and safe drinking water for millions of Americans," reports Dino Grandoni for the Washington Post

"At the center of the decades-long legal storm over water protections is the Clean Water Act, which bans pollution in 'waters of the United States' without a permit." The debate over "what constitutes such water" continues as the composition of the Supreme Court changes. "In 2015, the Obama administration expanded federal authority to stop or curtail development that could harm a variety of wetlands, streams and ditches that feed into larger bodies of water protected under the Clean Water Act." After President Trump took office, those controls were rolled back.

In what Grandoni calls a "staggering loss," "more than half of the 221 million acres of wetlands in what would become the contiguous United States have been drained, often for farming" since the 1780s. "With the announcement Wednesday, the Biden administration is kicking off a lengthy rulemaking process. It must first strike down the Trump rule before establishing its own definition for which waterways get federal protection."

Wednesday, June 9, 2021 in The Washington Post

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