President Trump announced a plan to roll back Obama-era clean water regulations that aimed to protect rivers and streams from agricultural runoff and other pollutants. It will remove vast wetlands and thousands of miles of waterways from federal protection.
In a challenge to the Trump administration's drive to erase Obama-era regulations, the organic food industry accused USDA of unlawfully delaying animal welfare rules that give livestock on organic farms more elbow room than allowed at conventional operations. Livestock groups and their allies in Congress have alternated between ridiculing the organic livestock rule and trying to scrap it.
Former Interior Secretary Sally Jewel calls claims that public groups were kept out of the conversation during planning meetings for the Bears Ears National Monument “nonsense.” The monument was designated by President Obama during his final days in office, but current Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has recommended that the monument’s boundaries be downsized.
The EPA will provide clarity to the reach of the clean water law with its revisions of the so-called Waters of the United States that was proposed by the Obama administration and blocked by court challenges, said administrator Scott Pruitt in a Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Gazette interview. Pruitt said the new rule would be “objectively measured and traditional in its view of how we should measure waters of the United States.”
The USDA wrapped up months of work on animal welfare rules for organic producers today by releasing the regulation two days before the end of the Obama administration. The regulation requires that producers provide outdoor access for poultry while codifying biosecurity practices against disease spread by wild birds.
The Obama administration has granted endangered-species protection to the rusty-patched bumblebee — the first bumblebee in the United States, and the first bee of any kind in the lower 48 states to get the designation, says The New York Times. Seven other bees are listed, but they are all from Hawaii.
A White House report submitted to Congress this week recommends that moderate funding go toward geoengineering in an effort to fight climate change, says The New York Times.
U.S. farmers lost as much as $3.5 billion in corn, wheat and rice sales to China last year because the world's most populous nation used its tariff system to unfairly limit imports, the Obama administration said in a complaint to the World Trade Organization. Separately, the U.S. asked WTO to appoint a dispute panel to investigate its complaint of excessive Chinese subsidies of corn, wheat and rice.
Officials in 24 states want president-elect Trump to cancel the Clean Power Plan put forth by the Obama administration, says Reuters. The plan calls for lowering power-plant emissions 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, but the Supreme Court has delayed its implantation until a U.S. district court in the District of Columbia decides whether the order is legal.
President Obama said rural America is "moving in the right direction" after the 2008-09 recession and a long-running shift toward automation and globalization that "has, in many ways, hit rural communities particularly hard." In an op-ed, the president saluted rural "resilience and ingenuity in the face of a challenge."