The Biden administration made only minimal changes to its “waters of the United States” regulation to comply with the Supreme Court’s new and stricter definition of wetlands, and that will perpetuate litigation over the Clean Water Act, said West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito on Wednesday.
Although the Biden administration says it will update its “waters of the United States” regulation by Sept. 1, it might have to act a bit faster than that under a motion filed in federal court in Texas. The motion asks the court to discard the Biden regulation entirely “and request that the agencies promulgate a new rule within 45 days.”
The Biden administration intends to update its “waters of the United States” regulation, which determines the upstream reach of anti-pollution laws, by Sept. 1, said the EPA on Wednesday. The revised WOTUS rule will reflect the recent Supreme Court decision that reduces federal protection of wetlands, it said.
In a decision that will narrow federal protection of wetlands, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the 1972 clean water law applies only to marshy areas with “a continuous surface connection” to streams, oceans, rivers, or lakes. “Today’s ruling is a profound win for property rights and the constitutional separation of powers,” said the Pacific Legal Foundation, which argued the case for a couple blocked from building a home in northern Idaho. (No paywall)
The Biden administration said on Thursday it would re-establish the "waters of the United States" rule that was in place before 2015, a step that would repeal a narrow regulation written during the Trump era. The National Wildlife Federation said that "many streams and wetlands nationwide will regain undisputed protections."
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.
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack were named Wednesday to be co-chairs of a Biden administration working group charged with addressing worsening drought conditions in the western half of the nation.
With one month left in what are California’s three wettest months of the year, the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada is at 27 percent of average for the start of February, said the state Department of Water Resources.
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.
Snowpack in parts of the Rocky Mountains is at record lows because of warmer than usual weather, “raising concerns about water supplies and economic damage,” says Inside Climate News.
State officials in Michigan drafted a plan that relies on voluntary action by farmers to reduce phosphorus runoff from fields that eventually flows into Lake Erie, where nutrient pollution feeds algal blooms in the western end of the lake, reports MLive Media Group.
Three new studies show that the West is running low on water, and that much of that decline is a result of climate change, says High Country News.
With hundreds of millions of dollars at stake in carrying out Iowa's Nutrient Reduction Strategy, which calls for a 45 percent cut in nitrogen and phosphorus levels in waterways, "a new and controversial debate is looming," says the Des Moines Register. Environmentalists and scientists want to rely on water-quality monitoring to determine progress while farm groups say the best way is to tally conservation practices put in place on the land.
More than half the flow of rivers in the upper Colorado Basin is derived from groundwater, according to a study by the U.S. Geological Society. The study's authors hope it will compel state water managers to ask important questions, since rivers are a key source of irrigation and drinking water across the west. For instance, should a farmer’s use of a nearby river be limited if he or she is also pumping large amounts of groundwater?