Republicans try congressional path to repeal WOTUS
In a long-shot tactic, Republicans in the Senate and House pressed on Thursday for a vote to overturn the Biden administration’s Waters of the United States rule, which spells out the upstream reach of water pollution laws. It was the third WOTUS rule to be issued in less than a decade. The Supreme Court is expected to rule in coming weeks on an Idaho case that would greatly limit federal protection of wetlands.
Climate ruling could ripple into food and ag regulations
The U.S. Supreme Court limited the EPA’s ability to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants on Thursday. The ruling could have broad impact with its reasoning that Congress must give an agency specific authority to act on particular issues.
Biden administration will replace Trump clean water rule
Shortly after telling senators that he wanted a "long-term, durable solution," EPA administrator Michael Regan said on Wednesday that the Biden administration would write a new definition of the upstream reach of clean water laws. The process would include repeal of the 2020 Trump-era rule that replaced 2015 Obama water regulations the farm sector decried as federal overreach.
Administration promises stronger protections for imperiled species
The Interior and Commerce departments said they will rescind or revise five Trump-era regulations that reduced federal protections for endangered and threatened species. The replacement rules would give the same protection to threatened species as endangered ones, and would instruct the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Services to disregard economic impacts when deciding whether a species should go on the endangered list.
Agriculture must be part of climate change negotiations, says Farm Bureau
Although blamed for 10 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, agriculture has a "great track record" through land stewardship and biofuels in mitigating climate change, says Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, in looking ahead to the Biden administration. "We must make sure we are at the table for discussions around climate change." (No paywall)
New USDA regulation waives review of many biotech plants
Three decades into the agricultural biotechnology era, the USDA said on Thursday that it will exempt genetically engineered plants from pre-market reviews if they are unlikely to pose an environmental risk. Opponents of the move said it means "a majority of genetically engineered and gene-edited plants will now escape any oversight" by the USDA.
EPA proposal would shrink buffer zones around farm pesticides
In the name of making safety regulations easier to implement, the EPA proposed on Thursday to reduce the size of buffer zones intended to protect people from exposure to pesticides during their application on the farm. Environmental and farmworker groups said the proposal would increase the risk of pesticides being sprayed on or drifting onto workers, neighbors, and passersby.
Forest Service to scale back environmental reviews
In the name of greater efficiency, the U.S. Forest Service said on Wednesday that it would modernize its procedures for complying with the National Environmental Policy Act, the bedrock federal environmental protection law.
EPA delays Obama’s WOTUS rule until 2020 while it writes its own version
President Trump set out to erase the Obama-era Waters of the United States rule in his first weeks in office. Now the EPA has finalized an action that should keep the so-called WOTUS rule from ever taking effect.
Pruitt promises no more than a six-month wait for new permits
The EPA will soon cut the wait time for permit requests to six months or less, in an effort to trim regulations generally for industry, says Reuters.
Trump nominates climate-change denier as top White House environmental adviser
President Trump has nominated Kathleen Hartnett White, a current senior policy adviser at the free-market think tank Texas Public Policy Foundation, to serve as the White House’s senior environmental policy adviser. Hartnett has argued that calling carbon dioxide a pollutant is “absurd,” and that C02 should instead be considered the gas of life.
EPA pulls agents from investigating enviro crime to guard Pruitt
In order to provide around-the-clock security for EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, the agency “has summoned agents from various cities to serve two-week stints helping guard Pruitt,” says the Washington Post. “The practice has rankled some employees and outside critics, who note that the EPA’s criminal enforcement efforts already are understaffed and that the Trump administration has proposed further cuts to the division.”
Pruitt’s EPA accused of secret phone calls and armed guards
As he works to reverse many of the environmental regulations set under the Obama administration, EPA chief Scott Pruitt has dialed up both security and secrecy at the agency.