Wetlands in Cape May, New Jersey. Photo by Anthony Bley, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – a commons image.

By Coral Davenport / New York Times-Climate / January 22, 2020

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration on Thursday finalized a rule to strip away environmental protections for streams, wetlands and groundwater, handing a victory to farmers, fossil fuel producers and real estate developers who said Obama-era rules had shackled them with onerous and unnecessary burdens.

From Day 1 of his administration, President Trump vowed to repeal President Barack Obama’s “Waters of the United States” regulation, which had frustrated rural landowners. His new rule, which will be implemented in about 60 days, is the latest step in the Trump administration’s push to repeal or weaken nearly 100 environmental rules and laws, loosening or eliminating rules on climate change, clean air, chemical pollution, coal mining, oil drilling and endangered species protections.

Although Mr. Trump frequently speaks of his desire for the United States to have “crystal-clean water,” he has called his predecessor’s signature clean-water regulation “horrible,” “destructive” and “one of the worst examples of federal” overreach.

“I terminated one of the most ridiculous regulations of all: the last administration’s disastrous Waters of the United States rule,” he told the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual convention in Texas on Sunday, to rousing applause.

“That was a rule that basically took your property away from you,” added Mr. Trump, whose real estate holdings include more than a dozen golf courses. (Golf course developers were among the key opponents of the Obama rule and key backers of the new one.)

Trump claims that he did this to protect America’s farmers. But real estate and non-farm industries are the biggest victors here. This dangerous reversal doesn’t just undo Obama-era protections — it guts protections that have been in place since the ‘70s.

His administration had completed the first step of its demise in September with the rule’s repeal.

Mr. Trump’s replacement, called the “Navigable Waters Protection Rule,” . . .

Read the complete story here . . .

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