Trump Admin Repeals Obama-Era Clean Water Protections
At stake is the definition of "waters of the United States" under the Clean Water Act. The Obama-era rule expanded that definition from larger bodies of water to include streams and wetlands. Thursday's repeal will return the country to more-limited 1986 water-protection standards, The Washington Post reported. The administration will also announce a new definition within months.
"Today, EPA and the Department of the Army finalized a rule to repeal the previous administration's overreach in the federal regulation of U.S. waters and recodify the longstanding and familiar regulatory text that previously existed," Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a press release. "Today's Step 1 action fulfills a key promise of President Trump and sets the stage for Step 2—a new WOTUS definition that will provide greater regulatory certainty for farmers, landowners, home builders, and developers nationwide."
Today @epa and @USACEHQ repealed the 2015 WOTUS Rule--ending a regulatory patchwork and uncertainty across the Unit… https://t.co/5LYOWsmmnM— U.S. EPA (@U.S. EPA)1568314061.0
Because court rulings have suspended the rule in 28 states, while keeping it in place in 22 others, Wheeler argued that a new rule would provide regulatory certainty across the board.
"We want to make sure that we have a definition that once and for all will be the law of the land in all 50 states," Wheeler told The Washington Post.
"By throwing out the Clean Water Rule, Andrew Wheeler is acting like the former coal lobbyist that he is, putting the drinking water for one in every three Americans at risk just so he can placate corporate polluters who don't want to be held accountable," Dalal Aboulhosn, Sierra Club's Deputy Legislative Director for Land and Water, said in a statement provided to EcoWatch. "We will fight Wheeler's rollback to not only protect our communities from dangerous water pollution, but also restore order and common sense as to how we go about protecting our water in the future."
.@EPAAWheeler announced the final plan to wipe out protections for streams, wetlands, and drinking water at the hea… https://t.co/0koJdt5Ced— Sierra Club (@Sierra Club)1568318554.0
Wheeler made the announcement at the headquarters of the National Association of Manufacturers, one of the industry groups that opposed the Clean Water Rule. Critics argued it gave the federal government too much power over the actions of developers and farmers. Farmers were prohibited from planting certain crops near streams or wetlands, or using certain pesticides without an EPA permit, The New York Times explained.
"When you take private property rights from a man who's worked all his life," American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall told The New York Times, "that is very intrusive to him and it's something he just can't stand for."
President Donald Trump singled it out for repeal in a Feb. 2017 executive order, in which the President asked the EPA to start a review process that would lead to "the elimination of this very destructive and horrible rule," The Washington Post explained.
Its repeal means that farmers, developers or landowners will no longer need a permit to pollute the streams and wetlands now excluded from protection, according to The New York Times. When finalized, the new Waters of the United States definition is likely to include streams that feed into larger bodies of water and wetlands directly adjacent to them, but exclude streams that run only during rainfall or wetlands not directly connected to larger waterways.
But the 2015 rule was based on a review of 1,200 scientific studies that showed how important these streams and wetlands are to downstream waters, according to The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
"The Trump administration's wild-eyed attempts to reward polluters knows no bounds, so it is repealing these important protections without regard for the law or sound science," NRDC Director of Federal Water Policy Jon Devine said.
BREAKING: Another day, another environmental rollback. Today, it's the Trump admin.'s repeal of the Clean Water Rul… https://t.co/NBfPp6kljD— NRDC 🌎 (@NRDC 🌎)1568312366.0
The Clean Water Rule repeal is the latest in a growing number of environmental rollbacks initiated by the Trump administration. Others include the repeals of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan and tailpipe emissions standards. Wheeler said Thursday that the Trump EPA had finalized 46 deregulatory actions, and that an additional 45 were in the works, NPR reported.
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It is undisputed that vitamin D plays a role everywhere in the body and performs important functions. A severe vitamin D deficiency, which can occur at a level of 12 nanograms per milliliter of blood or less, leads to severe and painful bone deformations known as rickets in infants and young children and osteomalacia in adults. Unfortunately, this is where the scientific consensus ends.
Where Does the Deficiency Begin?<p>Nobody knows exactly how much vitamin D a person actually needs. The question of when a deficiency starts is correspondingly controversial. However, vitamin D is becoming increasingly popular.Not only is the pseudo-scientific literature on the "sun vitamin" experiencing an upswing, but the number of published studies has also increased enormously in recent years. For example, in 2019 <a href="https://academic.oup.com/edrv/article/40/4/1109/5126915" target="_blank">a study found that</a> Vitamin D is responsible for keeping the skeleton functional and is associated with cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and various types of cancer. <br></p>
An All-Rounder<p>Vitamin D levels in the body rise and fall according to sun exposure. If sufficient UV rays reach the skin, the body is able to produce the vitamin itself. However, the human body only derives an estimated 10 to 20 percent of its daily requirement from food.</p><p>The vitamin D that we synthesize from sunlight or food is not biologically active at first. Before the kidneys can produce the biologically active form of the vitamin, known as calcitriol, and release it into the blood, some metabolic processes must take place beforehand.</p><p>In addition, many organs have receptors to which the precursor of calcitriol binds. Further, this substance is also present in blood.</p><p>From this precursor, the organs then produce calcitriol themselves, which the body then uses for countless other processes in the body. This form of vitamin D thus regulates insulin secretion, inhibits tumor growth, and promotes the formation of red blood cells as well as the survival and activity of macrophages, which are important for the <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/5/7/2502/htm" target="_blank">immune system.</a></p>
Low Vitamin D, Severe COVID-19 Disease?<p>A research study carried out <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352364620300067?via%3Dihub" target="_blank">at the University of Hohenheim</a> has now established a link between vitamin D deficiency, certain previous diseases, and severe cases of COVID-19.</p><p>According to the study, "there is a lot of evidence that several non-communicable diseases (high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome) are associated with low vitamin D plasma levels. These comorbidities, together with the often accompanying vitamin D deficiency, increase the risk of severe COVID-19 events."</p><p>"This statement is completely correct," said Martin Fassnacht, head of endocrinology at the University Hospital of Würzburg. However, he qualifies that it is a pure association, "i.e. a mere observation that these events occur together.</p><p>Dr. Fassnacht is very critical of the hype surrounding vitamin D, but not because he denies the vitamin serves important functions. However, studies on humans have not been able to show that vitamin D has the healing powers many often propagate.</p><p>Fassnacht says, "If you take a closer look, the hopes that the administration of vitamin D has a healing effect have not been confirmed so far."</p>
Association Versus Intervention Studies<p>Many studies on the vitamin are association or observational studies. "By definition, these studies cannot prove the causal relationship, but only point to mere correlations," said Fassnacht. The physician tries to illustrate this with an example:</p><p>"Imagine two groups of 80-year-olds. One group is spry, active and does sports. If you compare them with another group living in nursing homes, the difference in vitamin D levels will be dramatic. Life expectancy would also be extremely different."</p><p>But to try to explain the difference in fitness by vitamin D status alone is far too simplistic. "Vitamin D levels are a good measure of how sick someone is. But not more," says Fassnacht. </p><p>According to Fassnacht, none of the intervention studies carried out to date -- that specifically examined the effect of vitamin D on various diseases -- has been able to confirm the previous association and laboratory studies or the presumed positive effect of vitamin D.</p>
Further Research Is Needed<p>"If a coronavirus infection is suspected, it is therefore absolutely necessary to check the vitamin D status and quickly correct any possible deficit," said the recommendation of the paper published by the University of Hohenheim.</p><p>"Studies are underway to see whether vitamin D helps in COVID-19 infection, but I personally do not believe that this is really the case," says endocrinologist Fassnacht. Nevertheless, he says it is of course useful to carry out these studies.<br></p><p>"I don't want to rule out that there are actually subgroups of people who benefit from an additional vitamin D dose," he says. After all, this has been proven to be the case with a severe deficit.</p><p>In view of the study situation, Fassnacht does not think much of preventive, nationwide vitamin D substitutes. "My belief that the vitamin helps somewhere is very low. But, of course, I can be wrong."</p>
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