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By Jake Johnson
In a move environmentalists are warning will seriously endanger drinking water and wildlife nationwide, President Donald Trump's U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is reportedly gearing up to hand yet another gift to big polluters by drastically curtailing the number of waterways and wetlands protected under the Clean Water Act.
"As a result of the change, an estimated 60-90 percent of U.S. waterways could lose federal protections that currently shield them from pollution and development," The Intercept's Sharon Lerner reported on Friday, citing an analysis by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. "The new Trump administration rule imposes the most substantial restrictions on the Clean Water Act since its passage in 1972."
Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said if the new rule—which is expected to be unveiled on Tuesday—takes effect, corporations will be free to "dump as much crap into" rivers and streams as they want.
"For some parts of the country, it's a complete wiping away of the Clean Water Act," Hartl concluded.
The Obama-era Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule, which the Trump administration has long been aiming to roll back, was designed to limit pollution in most of the nation's large bodies of water in an effort to protect drinking water from contamination.
The Trump EPA is attempting to reinterpret the WOTUS rule in a way that allows oil giants, real estate developers and golf course owners to freely pollute rivers and streams. Critics have pointed out that Trump's businesses may stand to profit from any weakening of the WOTUS rule.
According to E&E News, which obtained a copy of EPA talking points, the Trump administration's rule "will erase federal protections from streams that flow only following rainfall, as well as wetlands not physically connected to larger waterways."
"The exact number of wetlands and waterways losing federal protections won't be known until the full, detailed proposal is released," E&E News reported on Thursday.
Daniel Estrin, general counsel and advocacy director at Waterkeeper Alliance, argued that the success of the Clean Water Act—while far from complete—has led many to forget how contaminated and visibly polluted the nation's water supply was before the law.
"The rollback will take us backward," Estrin warned of the EPA's proposed rule. "And most people don't remember just how bad that was."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Bernie Sanders has become the first contender in the crowded 2020 Democratic presidential primary field to pledge to offset all of the greenhouse gas emissions released by campaign travel, The Huffington Post reported Thursday.
The record flooding in the Midwest that has now been blamed for four deaths could also have lasting consequences for the region's many farmers.
By Ana Santos Rutschman
The world of food and drug regulation was rocked earlier this month by the news of a change in leadership at the Food and Drug Administration. Commissioner Scott Gottlieb resigned and will step down in early April. His temporary replacement is Dr. Ned Sharpless, director of the National Cancer Institute.
On Wednesday the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the first 20 chemicals it plans to prioritize as "high priority" for assessment under the Toxic Substances Control Act. Given the EPA's record of malfeasance on chemicals policy over the past two years, it is clear that these are chemicals that EPA is prioritizing to ensure that they are not properly evaluated or regulated.
Which conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables in the U.S. are most contaminated with pesticides? That's the question that the Environmental Working Group answers every year with its "Dirty Dozen" list of produce with the highest concentration of pesticides after being washed or peeled.