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Why is the Biden Clean Water Rule so Discussed in the US?

What is Biden’s Clean Water Rule, how could it have potentially helped the U.S. both economically and environmentally, and why has the senate recently overturned the Clean Water?
Green News
2023-04-07T00:00:00.000Z
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The Biden administration has been known to have been pulling out all of the stops in helping the United States transition to the use of clean energy, improve upon sustainability, and reduce overall emissions – such as with the Clean Water Rule, which was established in 2015 on behalf of the EPA in order to improve water resource management.

However, the senate has recently voted to overturn the proposed efforts released by the Biden administration to improve federal protection for waterways across the country.

Why has the senate voted to roll back on Biden’s Clean Water Rule, what does the Clean Water Rule entail, and how could overturning the Clean Water Rule prove as a disservice to the United States?

What is the Biden Clean Water Rule?

The Clean Water Rule was issued by the Environmental Protection Agency back in 2015 to rectify current water resource management under the umbrella of the Clean Water Act established in 1972. Ultimately, the Clean Water Rule helped to ensure federal protection over waterways, such as streams and wetlands that remain pivotal to the health of the overall surrounding ecosystem or feed into larger bodies of water.  

👉 The benefits of the Clean Water Rule include being able to maintain and protect the health and viability of both small and large waterways, which ultimately aids to assist biodiversity and consequently fight against climate change. It also has aimed to determine which entities are responsible for each body of water. 

Often, the Clean Water Rule is also known as the Waters of the United States – or WOTUS. One of the main goals of the Clean Water Rule is to clarify which bodies of water are eligible to be protected on behalf of the federal government. The Clean Water Rule was initially proposed due to a consistent lack of clear organization on who was responsible for each body of water and its subsequent protection and care. However, despite the fact that the Clean Water Rule was developed to rectify this confusion of care and ownership – it has sparked more controversy than it has helped to allow the dust to settle, as the rule has been a continuous discussion in congress and court for over forty years.

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What happened with Biden’s Clean Water Rule?

As of March 2023, the senate approved a rollback on Biden’s Clean Water Rule – opting to submit a new proposal that would focus on the business and agricultural aspects of assigning jurisdiction to various bodies of water to protect. In other words, those on the Republican side of the Clean Water Rule are looking to adjust the rule so that it adheres to the economic consequences instead of the environmental ones: much like the recent G.O.P energy bill also passed earlier this week. 

👉 What happened with Biden’s Clean Water Rule is similar to the recent G.O.P energy bill that has been passed, that will decrease the amount of authority Biden has over approving various projects that could cause environmental harm. 

Following the rollback of the Clean Water Rule, Biden has claimed to veto any legislation that would prohibit caring for waterways across the country – but the problem is that following the G.O.P energy bill, history has shown that Republicans have been able to take control over policies unwanted by Democrats and the Biden administration. Similar to the G.O.P energy bill, there were an overwhelming number of votes on behalf of Republicans who chose to roll back the current Clean Water Rule. 

👉 One of the most alarming aspects of the recent discussion surrounding the Clean Water Rule isn’t as much about the negative environmental impact that the overturned rule could have, but the new awareness on how much power the House and Senate can have over the president’s individual choices on environmental regulation. 

While Biden has ensured that he will vote against any amendments to the Clean Water Rule that would do anything less than protect waterways across the country, the alarming fact remains that the president is losing control over implementing the best environmental policies for the country – as many opposed to the most effective legislation for the climate are taking control via the House and the Senate.

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How does the senate’s vote on the Clean Water Rule affect Americans?

Despite the overwhelming backlash on Biden’s Clean Water Rule, some are still hopeful for a turn around – including the Senator of West Virginia, who believes that the amendments made and sent to the White House regarding the Clean Water Act will do more harm than good.

The industries to be most affected by the Senate’s vote on the Clean Water Rule include and are not limited to the agriculture industry, energy industry, housing industry, and construction workers. This is because all of these industries make use of water, and without the use of clean or viable water – these industries are bound to suffer, which can subsequently affect other industries. For instance, if the Clean Water Rule isn’t able to regulate bodies of water that a farmer relies on for their irrigation systems – it could lead to a less plentiful harvest, and subsequently impact the efficiency of livestock industries or other industries that rely on a plentiful harvest to function adequately.

The lack of protected waterways due to a repealed Clean Water Rule may not satisfy those who have voted to overturn it in the first place – as a lack of viable waterways could have a direct impact on economic growth. Farmers will have to ration their water for crops and construction sites could go on indefinite hiatuses – both of which wouldn’t be good for the economy.  

While the argument may be made that in the midst of climate change, our country cannot afford to spend money on acts such as the Clean Water Rule – the truth is that providing security to waterways can help both businesses and individual property owners better manage their land, which could have a positive impact on everyone.

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However, there is a silver lining on the recently overturned Clean Water Rule – and it’s that the proposed amendments to the Clean Water Rule would still help to reduce the chances of further water pollution. This is because the amended Clean Water Rule would still allow for over 50 million acres of farmland to be covered under the Clean Water Rule. 

It isn’t just various industries that could be affected by the change in the Clean Water Rule, but Americans themselves. For example, one of the biggest consequences of the rollback of the Clean Water Rule is that it could harm currently safe sources of drinking water, and given water is already a sparse resource on our planet – compromising what little viable water there is left could provoke further implications down the road. 

The irony is that the Clean Water Rule could help to regulate many of the current bodies of water in dire need of governmental intervention, but that have no clear rules on who is meant to impose those restrictions. The best example of this is the Great Salt Lake, which is drying up and affecting both the health and water supply of the residents of the seven states surrounding the Great Salt Lake. The states surrounding the lake, which is drying up and leaving toxic particles to be emitted into the air, have failed to adequately assign water restrictions according to each state – resorting to seeking assistance from the federal government to impose cuts. The Clean Water Rule could help to prevent disagreements such as these, as the Clean Water Rule could help to place responsibility in the proper local governments to get the Great Salt Lake drying up and compromising the availability of water under control.

Why is there so much controversy over the Clean Water Rule?

Like several other pieces of environmental legislation, Republicans and Democrats are having a tough time coming to an agreement that satisfies the economic and environmental desires of both parties – and the Clean Water Rule is no different. 

In fact, the Clean Water Rule isn’t a new debate amongst political parties – it’s been argued over for decades how to approach treated impacted waterways across the country. Ironically, this debate continues to negatively impact other environmental issues that have come about as a direct result of climate change, such as the difficulties in managing the sparse water supply from the Great Salt Lake drying up.

👉 While the controversy over the Clean Water Rule is expected, it’s also ironic – as seeking to better manage waterways across the country could assist industries to become both more financially lucrative, satisfying the economic demands of Republicans, and help improve the sustainability of these industries – satisfying the desires of Democrats.

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What does the future hold for the Clean Water Rule?

If the rollback to the Clean Water Rule is to be vetoed by Biden, it means that the Clean Water Rule will remain intact as it currently is – but its current standing may not be enough to mitigate the growing concerns of sparse or harmful substances present in available water sources.

However, if Republicans are to put an end to the Clean Water Rule entirely – it could not only harm both the environment, but their plans for economic development. In addition to this, the repeal of the Clean Water Rule could leave businesses and farmers alike confused on what obligations they have towards their respective waterways. At this moment, the Clean Water Rule is awaiting a revote from the Congressional Review Act – where recent regulations and proposals can be overturned with a majority vote. The future of the Clean Water Rule will be affected by the outcome of this majority vote. 

The Clean Water Rule represents the continued enemy to utilizing the power the United States has to elicit great change while withholding their economic potential – the divide amongst the country itself. The Clean Water Rule has the opportunity to benefit both seeking economic benefits and environmental reform throughout the country, but until these pieces of environmental legislation are compromised and presented to benefit everyone involved – the House and the Senate could backtrack all of the progress the Biden administration has made so far to ensure the U.S. remains awake in the fight against climate change.

What about Greenly? 

If reading this article about the senate’s decision to overturn Biden’s Clean Water Rule has made you interested in reducing your carbon emissions to further fight against climate change – Greenly can help you!

The Clean Water Rule is just one of the many environmental policies and pieces of climate legislation being developed and proposed in order to combat climate change. Check out our legislation tracker here to see which rules your company has to adhere to.

Greenly can help you make an environmental change for the better, starting with a carbon footprint assessment to know how much carbon emissions your company produces.

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