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Washington, Jan 23 (Canadian-Media): The decision to finalize a rule to strip away environmental protections for streams, wetlands and other water bodies by the Trump administration on Thursday would not only be beneficial to farmers, fossil fuel producers and real estate developers, but would also repeal President Barack Obama’s “Waters of the United States” regulation, which had frustrated rural landowners, media reports said.
Donald Trump. Image credit: Facebook page
U.S. President Donald Trump aims to win a major policy achievement to bring to his political base while his impeachment trial continues.
“I terminated one of the most ridiculous regulations of all... the last administration’s disastrous Waters of the United States rule...a rule that basically took your property away from you,” told Trump to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual convention in Texas on Sunday.
The new water rule will remove federal protections from more than half the nation’s wetlands, and hundreds of thousands of small waterways and would be the biggest loss of clean water protection the country has ever seen, said Blan Holman, a lawyer specializing in federal water policy at the Southern Environmental Law Center and added,
“This puts drinking water for millions of Americans at risk of contamination from unregulated pollution. This is not just undoing the Obama rule. This is stripping away protections that were put in place in the ’70s and ’80s that Americans have relied on for their health” and added hos the Trump administration has dismissed or marginalized scientific evidence.
The Obama rule protected about 60 percent of the nation’s waterways and limited the discharge of pollutants such as fertilizers, pesticides and industrial chemicals into those waters.
Although federal protections of large bodies of water, as well as larger rivers and streams that flow into them and wetlands woube be retained by the rule will retain, but it removes protections for many other waters, including wetlands that are not adjacent to large bodies of water, some seasonal streams that only flow after rainstorms, and water that temporarily flows through underground passages.
Trump’s replacement rule, said legal experts would go further than replacing the 2015 Obama rule, would also eliminate protections to smaller headwaters that have been implemented for decades under the 1972 Clean Water Act.
“This is rolling back federal jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act further than it’s ever been before,” said Patrick Parenteau, a professor of environmental law at Vermont Law School. “Waters that have been protected for almost 50 years will no longer be protected under the Clean Water Act.”
Millions of acres of pristine wetlands, which play key roles in filtering surface water and protecting against floods, would be exposed to chemicals and other pollutants.
The quality of the water in the Colorado River, which supplies water to 17 western states, could be harmed by the new rule, said Ean Thomas Tafoya, a Colorado-based clean water activist with the group GreenLatinos and added,
“We are a headwater state,” he said. “This rollback will affect almost every single stream that flows into the Colorado River.”
Tafoya said about many of those streams will not qualify for federal pollution protection and the toxics or poisons will get into the larger bodies of water.
The new Trump water rule ignores science by “failing to acknowledge watershed systems”, concluded the E.P.A.’s Scientific Advisory Board, a panel of 41 scientists responsible for evaluating the scientific integrity of the agency’s regulations.