Biden team quashes Trump environmental weakening that angered Canada


This story is part of Watching Washington, a regular dispatch from CBC News correspondents reporting on U.S. politics and developments that affect Canadians.

What’s new

The Biden administration says it’s siding with Canada in a dispute over an environmental protection for birds that migrate across the border.

It agrees that a Trump-era rule to weaken protections has to go.

The U.S. government on Friday published a regulatory decision proposing to revoke a policy change announced by the Trump administration.

The move comes after the new administration said in February that it was reviewing its predecessor’s weakening of environmental protections for birds.

What’s next

The Biden administration is now soliciting public comment on its decision.

At issue is whether companies, in particular energy companies, can be fined when birds are accidentally killed by their projects. 

The Trump administration had done away with fines for non-intentional killings that had resulted in companies incurring $105.8 million US in penalties between 2010 and 2018.

The Canadian government had argued that the change, which affected more than 1,000 species, violated the terms of a 1916 Canada-U.S. agreement on migratory birds and would threaten vulnerable species.

“After further consideration, we have similar concerns to those of our treaty partner, Canada,” said the new rule published by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The document also cited previous laws passed by Congress to back the administration’s interpretation of U.S. law as protecting birds from industrial activity.  

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