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Biden Establishes Objective to Safeguard Wetlands, Rivers, and Streams

President Biden (Credits: CNN)

The White House revealed a new initiative on Tuesday aimed at safeguarding a portions of the nation’s wetlands, rivers, and streams, coinciding with a “water summit” hosted by the administration. The initiative sets forth an ambitious goal to protect 8 million acres of wetlands and conserve 100,000 miles of rivers and streams across the United States.

While these targets provide more specific metrics, they do not appear to represent an outstanding departure from the existing objective of conserving 30 percent of the country’s lands and waters. Currently, the U.S. boasts 75.5 million acres of wetlands and over 2.5 million miles of rivers.

Biden sets goal to protect wetlands, rivers and streams (Credits: Courthouse News Service)

To advance this new goal, the administration introduced a “freshwater challenge,” inviting states, tribes, and municipalities to present their policies for the conservation and restoration of freshwater resources. Already, 10 states, eight tribes, and 24 local governments have pledged their commitment to this initiative.

Brenda Mallory, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, emphasized the importance of these measures in safeguarding clean water for all citizens. Mallory stated that President Biden recognizes the importance of conserving and restoring rivers, lakes, wetlands, and streams to ensure access to clean water.

The announcement comes in response to perceived threats to water resources, including a 2023 Supreme Court decision curtailing the federal government’s regulatory authority over wetlands protection.

President Joe Biden (Credits: CNN)

In light of these challenges, the administration has allocated $1 billion in funding to enhance tribal access to water. This funding includes $700 million from the Indian Health Service and $320 million from the Bureau of Reclamation to expedite the delivery of drinking water and water infrastructure to tribal communities.

The initiative aims to address the pressing issue of water insecurity faced by many tribal households, where over half currently lack access to clean water or adequate sanitation.

Leveraging the engineering capabilities of the Bureau of Reclamation, the effort seeks to accelerate the implementation of water projects in tribal areas, thereby improving water access and quality for indigenous populations nationwide.

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