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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler in September 2019. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

The Environmental Protection Agency is moving forward with efforts to weaken wetland regulation and restrict the use of scientific studies to inform new rules, despite criticisms from its scientific advisers, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: The claims that there are flaws in the science driving the administration's proposals are especially noteworthy coming from scientists and industry members who were appointed to the EPA's Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) by the president himself, per the Post.

  • “It really calls the question to what degree these suggested changes are fact-based as opposed to politically motivated,” said Steven Hamburg, a former SAB member and current chief scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund, told the Post.

What they're saying: The SAB said the agency's plan to reverse a rule limiting pesticide applications in wetlands "neglects established science," per the Post.

  • The board also said the EPA's plan to reduce average gas mileage targets for cars and trucks are "implausible."
  • EPA spokeswoman Corry Schiermeyer told the Post that the agency “always appreciates and respects the work and advice” of the board but said reviews “may potentially be revised” before being finalized.

The big picture: The Trump administration has rolled back 58 environmental rules as of Dec. 21, per the New York Times, including:

  • Lowering regulation requirements of industrial polluters via the Clean Air Act.
  • Loosening offshore drilling safety regulations implemented after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
  • Altering applications of the Endangered Species Act, "making it more difficult to protect wildlife from long-term threats posed by climate change."
  • Rejecting a proposed pesticide ban on chlorpyrifos, which is "linked to developmental disabilities in children," per the Times.

Go deeper: EPA failed to follow rules for science panels overhaul, watchdog finds

Go deeper

House passes $1.9 trillion COVID relief package

Photo: Screenshot via C-SPAN

The House approved President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief package on a 219-212 vote early Saturday morning, sending it to the Senate for a possible rewrite before it gets to Biden's desk.

The big picture: The vote was a critical first step for the package, which includes $1,400 cash payments for many Americans, a national vaccination program, ramped-up COVID testing and contact tracing, state and local funding and money to help schools reopen.

10 hours ago - Health

Biden says it's "not the time to relax" after touring vaccination site

President Biden speaking after visiting a FEMA Covid-19 vaccination facility in Houston on Feb. 26. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said Friday that "it's not the time to relax" coronavirus mitigation efforts and warned that the number of cases and hospitalizations could rise again as new variants of the virus emerge.

Why it matters: Biden, who made the remarks after touring a vaccination site in Houston, echoed CDC director Rochelle Walensky, who said earlier on Friday that while the U.S. has seen a recent drop in cases and hospitalizations, "these declines follow the highest peak we have experienced in the pandemic."

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Most COVID-19 survivors can weather risk of reinfection, study says — "Twindemic" averted as flu reports plummet amid coronavirus crisis
  2. Vaccine: FDA advisory panel endorses J&J COVID vaccine for emergency use — About 20% of U.S. adults have received first vaccine dose, White House says — New data reignites the debate over coronavirus vaccine strategy.
  3. Economy: What's really going on with the labor market.
  4. Local: All adult Minnesotans will likely be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine by summer — Another wealthy Florida community receives special access to COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Sports: Poll weighs impact of athlete vaccination.