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Conservationists tout Indiana's old mines and brownfields to develop renewable energy; Louisiana becomes 1st state to require the display of the Ten Commandments in public schools; Black Hills Visitor Center under new joint tribal, federal oversight; Judge set to rule on massive MT logging project.

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Former President Donald Trump says he loves Milwaukee, civil rights groups reject designated protest zones for the RNC convention and a New York Equal Rights Amendment is restored to the November ballot.

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Rural educators say they need support to teach kids social issues, rural businesses can suffer when dollar stores come to town, prairie states like South Dakota are getting help to protect grasslands and a Minnesota town claims the oldest rural Pride Festival.

Conservation Groups Slam SCOTUS Ruling on Wetland Protections

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Friday, May 26, 2023   

The U.S. Supreme Court has gutted federal protections for much of the country's wetlands.

The court found that the Waters of the United States rule, part of the Clean Water Act, only applies to wetlands with a surface connection to a navigable body of water. Conservation groups have said that puts up to 80% of U.S. wetlands at risk for pollution and development, with ephemeral streams and headwaters in western states at particular risk.

Alex Funk, director of water resources and senior counsel for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, predicted the ruling will have widespread negative consequences.

"This is going to put major setbacks on our ability to adapt to climate change, respond to extreme weather events," he said. "So, anyone that hunts, fishes, or recreates - there was a big hit to that from the court."

The case was brought by a family in Idaho that was prevented from building on their land. The court unanimously decided that the EPA rule did not apply to their property, but then went much further, narrowing the authority of the agency nationwide.

Supporters cheered the ruling, saying the Obama-era Waters of the U.S. rule went too far and had been a burden to property owners.

Funk said pristine wetlands are the superstars of the natural infrastructure.

"Everything from mitigating downstream flooding impacts by absorbing runoff and precipitation to encouraging groundwater recharge, to improving water quality and capturing sediment, and other pollutants that might end up in drinking-water supplies," he said, "and, of course, the fish and wildlife impacts."

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement that "California has adopted some of the strongest laws in this country to protect our waters and the environment, and we will continue enforcing our own laws vigorously."

Disclosure: Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Endangered Species & Wildlife, Environment, Public Lands/Wilderness. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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