It’s Thursday, March 5, and an EPA advisory board just slammed Trump’s rewrite of Obama’s Clean Water Rule.

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The EPA’s Science Advisory Board (SAB), a group meant to offer technical and scientific advice to the agency when it’s making rules, rebuked the Trump administration’s proposal to revise the Obama-era Clean Water Rule, arguing that the revisions aren’t sufficiently justified by science.

The fuss all comes down to what should be included under the agency’s definition of protected “waters of the United States.” In January, the EPA released the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, which proposed to narrow the scope of which rivers, streams, wetlands, and marshes are protected under the Clean Water Act.

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In its response, the advisory board found that the EPA didn’t provide proper peer-reviewed evidence for its proposal to scale back protections for U.S. waters. It specifically criticized the proposed rule’s omission of groundwater systems and irrigation canals from protection, highlighting that the harmful bacteria E. coli is often traced to animal contamination from feedlots near irrigation canals. Blech.

“The proposed rule does not present new science to support this definition” of U.S. waters, the board wrote in a letter to EPA chief Andrew Wheeler. “Thus the SAB finds that the proposed rule lacks scientific justification, while potentially introducing new risks to human and environmental health.”

Rachel Ramirez

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Zoya Teirstein