President Biden Executive Orders Rollback of Anti-Environmental Regulatory Actions

Several key water rules and actions that we opposed over the last four years are included in the Biden ordered reviews.

McCloud River, CA | Photo by Lourens Botha

American Rivers sees the first one hundred days of the new Biden Administration as an opportunity for real change in protecting our Nation’s waters and water resources.  In our 2021 Blueprint for Action , we identify overturning or reversing the anti-water protection regulations and actions of the past four years as a top priority for our engagement with the Biden Administration.  

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On President Biden’s first day in office, he issued numerous executive orders impacting the regulatory rollbacks enacted by the last Administration that weakened critical environmental protections.  President Biden’s  Executive Order on Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis ordered federal agencies to review the regulatory actions from the past four years.  These reviews cover most of the Federal agencies and are listed in detail in the Executive Order.  These reviews include myriad issues under the jurisdiction of the EPA, including water, air, and toxics—many provisions important to American Rivers priorities.  Reversing, replacing, or rescinding these rules is critically important to protecting the Nation’s water resources and enabling American Rivers to pursue its work. We view these early Executive Order actions by the Administration as a tremendous first step toward success for American Rivers priorities.

There are several key water rules and actions that we opposed over the last four years included in the Biden ordered reviews.  Undoing these actions are critical to American Rivers’ work.  These include:

  • Navigable Waters Protection Rule;
  • Nationwide wetland permits; 
  • Lead and Copper Rule;  
  • Coal Ash Rule; 
  • NPDES Electronic Reporting Rule; 
  • Steam Electric ELGs; 
  • Perchlorate decision;
  • Section 401 State Certification of Water Quality Rule;
  • Maryland’s Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan;
  • Proposal to increase Shasta Dam capacity.

President Biden also directly rescinded several previous Executive Orders for actions that American Rivers had previously opposed. Trump’s Executive Order 13778 was repealed.  This order directed EPA to begin repealing the Obama era Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. Biden’s action now indicates to EPA to examine the Trump era Navigable Waters Protection Rule for replacement.  Executive Order 13868 was also repealed.  This order resulted in the new rule governing Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 401 requirements.  This action also indicates Biden wants EPA to review the Section 401 guidance, and the Section 401 Certification Rule issued last year. The issuance of these two regulations caused American Rivers to join with partner environmental groups in legal action to overturn these environmentally harmful rules. 

These opportunities to reverse the last Administration’s harmful regulations are exciting developments.   Once the changes are complete, it will enhance critical protections of our Nation’s rivers, streams, and critical water resources.  With these tremendous environmentally protective changes, American Rivers will now pursue more progressive policies that will continue the advancement of our mission to protect wild rivers, restore damaged rivers and conserve clean water for people and nature.

2 responses to “President Biden Executive Orders Rollback of Anti-Environmental Regulatory Actions

  1. These are very dangerous environmental roll-backs that could have had serious environmental and community health effects. Likely, the environmental toxicity levels haven’t grown to severe levels at this point. Pro-business tactics just are not very popular and really should be left behind in 2021.

  2. Trump”s “Dirty Water Rule” makes no scientific sense. The majority of headwater streams and “isolated wetlands” (an oxymoronic term, I prefer “non-surficially connected” wetlands) communicate with navigable waters. The non-surficially connected wetlands through groundwater) and can therefore transmit pollutants into navigable waters.

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