Fox News reports that President Joe Biden, just before 2022 came to a close, quietly changed a key Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) law so as to regulate more waterways.
In doing so, as we will see, Biden repealed a policy of the administration of former President Donald Trump.
The Clean Water Act
This all has to do with the EPA’s Clean Water Act.
The EPA provides a summary of the act, stating:
The Clean Water Act (CWA) establishes the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States and regulating quality standards for surface waters. The basis of the CWA was enacted in 1948 and was called the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, but the Act was significantly reorganized and expanded in 1972. “Clean Water Act” became the Act’s common name with amendments in 1972.
With such a law, the key question is what qualifies as “waters”?
This definition of “waters” is what Biden has quietly changed.
A small but significant battle
Former President Trump, when he was in office, changed the definition of “waters” that had been put in place by the administration of former President Barack Obama.
Whereas Obama tried to expand the definition of “waters” to be as broad as possible, Trump retracted it. Trump, in doing so, was looking to cut back on federal regulation, and, in turn, help such industries as farming, construction, and oil.
The political left – particularly environmental activists – however, fought back against Trump’s definition change, arguing that it resulted in the increased pollution of waterways and the increased damage of habits.
U.S. District Court Judge Rosemary Marquez gave the environmentalists the win.
Now, Biden has essentially returned the definition of “waters” to the broad definition implemented by the Obama administration. Biden did so on Dec. 29, just before the new year.
Fox News describes the changes, writing, “the new rule signed by the Biden administration increases protections of wetlands, lakes, ponds, and some streams, especially if they are navigable waterways or wetlands that are ‘relatively permanent.'”
The outlet adds, “There are no specific distances defined for adjacent waterways or wetlands to determine whether they would be protected or not, but instead the rules state that the impact ‘depends on regional variations in climate, landscape, and geomorphology.'”
After Trump worked to cut the federal government down to size, Biden is building it back up, bigger than ever.