Trump administration proposal would let businesses pollute half of US wetlands


Trump's own scientific advisers object to the plan which they say is 'in conflict with established science.'

The Trump administration is set to announce a dismantling of clean water protections that would allow businesses in the farming, mining, oil and gas, and real estate industry to pollute half of U.S. wetlands and millions of miles of streams, Politico reported on Tuesday.

The announcement could come as early as this weekend.

The rule will weaken the Clean Water Act, a 48-year-old law that's helped stop the country's water sources from being polluted, and is being proposed over the objections of Trump-appointed scientific advisers at the Environmental Protection Agency. Trump's scientific advisers said in a letter last month to EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler that weakening the law is "in conflict with established science" and runs counter to the Clean Water Act's objectives.

The proposal would narrow the definition of what constitutes a protected waterway, and argues that past federal rules enacted by former President Barack Obama's administration were executive overreach.

Politico reported that the proposal is likely to be challenged in court, and could go all the way to the Supreme Court, where the Trump administration hopes the conservative majority will side with the changes.

The outlet noted that the move seemed to be a nod to U.S. farmers, who have been fighting environmental protections of U.S. waterways for years and who have been hit hard recently as a result of Trump's trade war with China.

Trump has taken a particularly aggressive stance on water regulations of late, complaining during campaign rallies about toilet flushing and hand washing.

"You turn on the faucet and you don't get any water. They take a shower and water comes dripping out. Just dripping out, very quietly dripping out," Trump said in December at a roundtable with small business owners. "People are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times, as opposed to once.

At a rally on Tuesday, Trump took aim at environmental regulations again, praising "new dishwashers that give you more water so you can actually watch and rinse your dishes without having to do it 10 times."

It was not immediately clear to what he was referring. Most of the dishwashing machines on the market today are vastly superior to older models in terms of efficiency and use far less water than their predecessors, and as both CNET and NPR have noted, are actually more environmentally friendly than handwashing, with some newer machines using as little as 3 gallons per load.

As NPR reported, the Department of Energy also "sets standards that a full-size dishwasher can use no more than five gallons of water per cycle, and a compact dishwasher no more than 3.5 gallons."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.