Jun 9, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Biden pushes for increased protections for streams and waterways, reversing Trump-era rollback

Florida, South Bay, Lake Okeechobee, waterway canal

Lake Okeechobee in Florida. Photo: Jeffrey Greenberg/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The Biden administration is pushing to increase federal environmental protections for "streams, marshes and other wetlands," effectively reversing a Trump-era rollback, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.

Why it matters: The move is likely to restart a "decades-long battle over how far federal officials can go to stop contaminants from entering small streams and other wetlands," per the Post.

The state of play: Under President Obama, the Environmental Protection Agency expanded protections that curbed the use of polluting chemicals near wetlands, streams and other bodies of water, per the New York Times.

  • Trump repealed these protections in a move that was seen as a boon to big business and real estate developers.
  • Now, Biden is trying to help "stem the staggering loss of wetlands" in the U.S., per the Post.

The big picture: EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a statement that the Trump administration's reversal of the protections led to "significant environmental degradation," per the Post.

  • The EPA, alongside the Army Corps of Engineers, will begin crafting a new set of protections for waterways subject to federal protection, per the Post.

Of note: Deciding which streams and wetlands fall under federal protections and regulations has been a subject of intense political debate across the U.S. since the 1970s, and it's been known to land Democrats in hot water with American farmers, according to Politico.

  • Regan said he aims to strike a "delicate balance between conservation and development" with the new regulations, per the Post.
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