For 20 years, contentious debates have revolved around protection for swamps, ponds and streams that sometimes run for only a few months of the year. At some point, water bodies like these qualify as “waters of the United States,” which are protected under the Clean Water Act. But where’s the line?

The Trump administration has just repealed a major regulation that the Obama administration developed seeking to settle this question. Officials claim they’re freeing farmers and developers from excessive regulation. But as environmental lawyer Patrick Parenteau explains, lawsuits will keep flowing until Congress resolves this critical issue.

Also today:

Many migratory birds, like these sandhill cranes, rely on wetlands for feeding, resting and shelter. Wyman Meinzer/USFWS

Repealing the Clean Water Rule will swamp the Trump administration in wetland litigation

Patrick Parenteau, Vermont Law School

A 2006 Supreme Court ruling created widespread confusion about which wetlands and other waters are federally protected. The Trump administration's latest action isn't likely to clear things up.

Politics + Society

Environment + Energy

  • How fires weaken Amazon rainforests’ ability to bounce back

    Paulo Massoca, Indiana University; Catarina Conte Jakovac, Wageningen University

    Reversing the damage from fires in Brazil's rainforest is not as simple as allowing trees to grow back. Decades of research shows how fires degrade their long-term health and utility.

Economy + Business

  • Fidel’s Cuba is long gone

    Joseph J. Gonzalez, Appalachian State University

    Some Cuban entrepreneurs are so openly anti-communist that they sound like, well, capitalists.

Health + Medicine

Science + Technology

  • France forgets own golden age of medical marijuana

    David A Guba, Jr., Bard Early College Baltimore

    After a long prohibition, France is permitting medical cannabis trials. This isn't the first time that France is testing medicinal marijuana - in the 19th century it led the world in this research.

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