A June 2020 "Jurisdictional Waters" rule ignored established science and decades of water conservation policy. The Trump-era rule sought to erase protection for ephemeral streams & wetlands.
It was vacated in August 2021 by a federal court, and the new administration is actively working on a more moderate alternative.
The 2020 Trump-era rule misinterprets years of Supreme Court precedent (especially the key opinion of Justice Kennedy in Rapanos) and ignores decades of scientific research on Water Connectivity.
The rule leaves ephemeral streams & many wetlands with little or no protection.
On Jan. 20, 2021, President Biden signed Executive Order 13990, “Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science To Tackle the Climate Crisis,” instructing agencies to review agency actions during the prior administration.
EPA subsequently instructed DOJ to seek stays or abeyances in ongoing litigation.
These actions allow closer scrutiny & probably repeal & replacement of the June 2020 rule.
On August 30, 2021, a Federal District Court in Arizona found that the Trump-era rule violates the federal Administrative Procedure Act, and issued an order vacating its application nationwide.
There is a link to a recent Washington Post article regarding the decision below.
See the full text of the District Court's August 30, 2021 opinion at the Earthjustice website, https://earthjustice.org/sites/default/files/files/order_remand_and_vacate.pdf
A colleague asked "is the 2020 'waters of the US rule' the most destructive environmental decision" to emerge from the last administration?
My answer: "To be blunt, some of Trump's environmental choices, if left in place, will kill more people more quickly. The Clean Air Act mercury emissions decision, for example, is a major public health setback. And his failure to lead on climate is devastating. But this decision - the jurisdictional waters rule, if implemented - will facilitate the destruction of more species, more habitat, more wetlands, and more aquatic resources, more quickly than anything the United States has seen since the unregulated era that left the Cuyahoga River to burn in 1969. And, yes, this Trump move could be fatal because human life and public health require clean water, and clean water must come from somewhere."
Is there any good news? "Sure. The Biden Administration is actively reviewing the rule, and seeking to stay pending litigation. These actions are likely to result in a reversal of the last administration's ill-considered and unsound regulation."
- Eric Dannenmaier
Wetlands are significant "carbon sinks" that sequester carbon in plant material, especially deep root systems.
Protecting Freshwater Wetlands is a Key to Fighting Climate Change.
Follow the work of White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy, and let her know that Wetland protection is part of the solution.