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(Article Summarized by Meridian Institute) The California water board has, for more than a decade, been working with scientists, holding public meetings and consulting with landowners and businesses to prepare its own rules protecting wetlands and other waters. Its proposed new rules are scheduled for a vote by the board this summer; a yes vote could insulate the state from President Trump’s executive order to roll back the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule. Over the last two centuries, California has lost 90 percent of its wetlands. Stepping in to protect its wetlands, says Rachel Zwillinger, a water policy adviser for Defenders of Wildlife, “is a prime example of a state exerting its right to protect itself from federal rollbacks. California is showing the type of state leadership that our system of cooperative federalism envisions.” Adds California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, if the WOTUS rule “is rolled back, many of our waterways may lose critical protections. The California Department of Justice refuses to stand idly by and let that happen.” Becerra has joined seven other states and Washington, D.C. in objecting to the repeal of the rule. California’s proposed rule would provide a new wetland definition protective of the state’s network of water bodies, one that is stronger than the current federal rule. The American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Association of Home Builders, energy companies and other business groups, this article notes, in urging Trump to revoke WOTUS, said states should control their own waters. Now that California actually is, the groups are arguing that the state’s rules are duplicative and contradict federal ones. Should it go forward, this rule would be the first official rule to stop a Trump rollback from affecting California.

Posted January 12th, 2018