The Trump administration to propose new water protections that would damage policies implemented during the administration of President George H.W. Bush
In Washington, the Trump administration is expected to unveil a plan that would weaken federal water rules on Tuesday, Dec. 11. The current federal water rules are designed to protect millions of acres of wetlands and thousands of miles of streams nationwide from pesticide runoff and other pollutants.
According to The New York Times, environmentalists say this proposal represented a historic assault on wetlands regulation at a moment when President Trump has voiced a commitment to “crystal-clean water.” The proposed new rule would bring damage to the safeguards put in place over a quarter century ago during the administration of President George H.W. Bush. During his presidency, Bush implemented a policy designed to ensure that no wetlands lost federal protection.
According to the Times, President Trump is expected to accredit his plan as ending a federal land grab that infringed on the rights of farmers, rural landowners and real estate developers to use their property as they see fit.
Under the Obama rule, farmers using land near streams and wetlands were restricted from doing certain kinds of plowing and planting certain crops and would have been required to apply for permits from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in order to use chemical pesticides and fertilizers that could have run off into those water bodies. Under the new plan, which lifts federal protections from many streams and wetlands, those requirements will be lifted. President Trump made a pledge of weakening a 2015 Obama-era rule one of his central campaign pledges.
According to The New York Times, John Konkus, spokesman for the EPA, declined to comment on the plan.
This plan is just the latest actions by the Trump administration to weaken or retract major environmental rules. According to The New York Times, this is including a proposal to weaken regulations on plant-warming emission from cars, power plants and oil and gas drilling rigs, a series of moves designed to speed new drilling in the vast Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and efforts to weaken protections under the Endangered Species Act. At an annual United Nations conference on mitigating global warming, Trump administration officials held an event promoting the benefits of fossil fuels.
According to CNN, the EPA has released a statement saying it would make a major water policy announcement on Tuesday, Dec. 11.