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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.
The proposal would have limited the kinds of studies the EPA could use to make regulations to only studies that relied on data that was publicly available and therefore reproducible. But scientists and environmentalists warned that would exclude many important public health studies that relied on confidential patient medical records, ABC News reported.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Courtney Lindwall
Communities along the 300-mile proposed route for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) heard some good news this week. On Tuesday, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously voted to vacate a permit required by the Clean Water Act, which was previously issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The ruling stated the Army Corps lacked the authority to substitute one type of construction for another for the natural gas pipeline, which would crisscross rivers and other sensitive aquatic ecosystems hundreds of times between northern West Virginia and southern Virginia.
The 2015 rule, also known as Waters of the United States (WOTUS) defines which waters can be protected from pollution and destruction under the Clean Water Act. It protects large water bodies such as lakes and rivers, as well as small streams and wetlands.
By Ken Kimmell
Battle lines over President Trump's nominee for a new U.S. Supreme Court justice are now being drawn, as they should be, over crucial issues such as a woman's right to choose, health care, immigration, civil rights and criminal justice. In past nomination fights, little attention has been paid to the court's role in shaping environmental law and science-based regulation. But it would be a major mistake to overlook these issues now. The Supreme Court has an enormous impact on how U.S. environmental laws are interpreted and enforced, and a new justice could tip the balance against science-based rules on climate change, clean air and clean water.
In a memo dated June 26 but released June 27, Pruitt asked the EPA's Office of Water and Regional Administrators to draft a proposal that would restrict the agency's ability to revoke permits issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) allowing projects to dispose of dredged or fill material in rivers, streams and other waterways, The Hill reported.
When Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement Wednesday, the court lost a key swing vote on environmental issues, The Atlantic reported.
Whoever President Donald Trump nominates to replace the 81-year-old Reagan-appointee, who The New York Times called "an equal opportunity disappointer," according to Grist, is likely to be more conservative and could determine the fate of U.S. climate policy, the Endangered Species Act and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott Pruitt's attempts to roll back Obama-era clean water regulations, legal experts told The Atlantic.
A farm bill that opponents say would harm endangered species, land conservation efforts, small-scale farmers and food-stamp recipients passed the U.S. House of Representatives 213 to 211, with every House Democrat and 20 Republicans voting against it, The Center for Biological Diversity reported.
Illinois environmental groups filed a lawsuit Wednesday alleging that a utility company is violating the Clean Water Act by letting coal ash leak into a protected river.
Natural Gas Intelligence reported: "The petition was distributed for conference, or discussion, on Friday, but the justices simply denied it."
'Sick Joke': House Agriculture Committee Advances Farm Bill Attacking Environment, Endangered Species
The House Agriculture Committee passed H.R. 2, the 2018 Farm Bill, Wednesday on a party-line basis. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), includes dozens of poison-pill riders that would gut fundamental environmental safeguards.
Most significantly it would completely exempt the use of pesticides from the Endangered Species Act, effectively dooming hundreds of endangered species to extinction and making it legal to kill any endangered species with a pesticide at almost any time.