Biden Administration to Restore Clean-Water Protections Ended by Trump 川普廢止的水保法 拜登將予恢復
The Biden administration intends to revive federal environmental protections for millions of streams, marshes and other bodies of water across the country that had been eliminated by former President Donald Trump in his quest to please homebuilders, farmers and ranchers.
The Environmental Protection Agency made the announcement after it said it had found that the changes under Trump caused "significant environmental degradation."
The problem is particularly glaring in arid states such as New Mexico and Arizona, where nearly every one of more than 1,500 streams lost environmental protections under the Trump rules, said Michael Regan, administrator of the EPA. More than 300 development projects were able to go forward without regard to whether they were polluting streams or waterways under the changes made by Trump, the EPA said.
It marked the latest in a series of decisions by President Joe Biden to restore environmental protections that Trump had weakened or repealed, and it sets the stage for a regulatory and legal battle over an issue that has pitted environmental groups against agricultural interests for decades.
Republicans criticized the move and vowed to fight it, saying Trump's policy had protected farmers and removed what many felt were onerous cleanup burdens. "It's a shame the Biden administration wants to undo the good work of the Trump administration," Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said.
The original measure, known as the Waters of the United States rule, dates to the Obama administration and extended the range of bodies of water that were subject to the 1972 Clean Water Act, an issue that had for decades lacked clarity.
The Obama administration protected about 60% of the nation's waterways, including large bodies of water such as the Chesapeake Bay, Mississippi River and Puget Sound, and smaller headwaters, wetlands, seasonal streams and streams that run temporarily underground. It limited the discharge of pollutants such as fertilizers, pesticides and industrial chemicals into those waters.
Trump repealed the policy in 2019, calling it "one of the most ridiculous regulations of all," and claimed that his repeal caused farmers to weep in gratitude.
The Biden administration's decision to restore the federal protections is one in a string of reversals it is making to Trump-era environmental decisions, which were themselves reversals of Obama administration actions.
California Throws a Rescue Line to Its Dwindling Monarch Butterflies 加州搶救帝王斑蝶
Known for their windowpane wing design and bright orange color, Western monarch butterflies add a dash of magic to the California coast, where they spend the winter. Now a coalition of conservation groups, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the environmentalist organization River Partners are working together to extend a lifeline to the monarchs, whose population has been dwindling drastically.
The groups have embarked on an effort to add 30,000 milkweed plants across the state to provide the butterflies with places to breed and acquire the sustenance for migration.
The Western monarchs' California population has fallen 99% since the 1980s, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. A major factor in that drop has been a decline in milkweed caused by farming and pesticide use. Milkweed is vital to monarchs as a place to lay eggs and as a food source for their caterpillars.
Monarch butterflies do something called "overwintering" on the coast of California — spending time there from October to March before migrating farther inland to breed.
Every year around Thanksgiving, volunteers count the migrating monarchs at the coastal overwintering sites, said Cheryl Schultz, a biology professor at Washington State University who works with the River Partners project. In 2019, 29,000 butterflies overwintered in California. A year later, that number was just 2,000, she said.
In response, California put forward a $1 million state-funded initiative to restore the Western monarchs' natural habitat — and hopefully the population itself — by planting 600 acres of milkweed statewide.
"It's going to take time for that habit to establish," Schultz said. "It's not like we can plant milkweed today and poof, you know, three months from now we have 40 functioning habits for monarchs. Different areas will take different amounts of time to come online."
Although monarch butterflies are faced with extinction, the species is not federally protected because other species are a higher priority.
According to the U.S. Forest Service, milkweed is a wildflower known for being "a mega food market for insects." Almost 500 types of insects, including butterflies, feed on some part of the milkweed plant — its sap, leaves and flowers all provide nutrition.