An environmental protection law passed by Congress would allow oil and gas companies to build pipelines across rivers, lakes, streams and oceans, a move that would undermine a major part of America’s most celebrated and beloved holiday.
In addition to potentially polluting waterways, the new rules would allow drilling on public lands and water resources, including wetlands, according to the Wilderness Society.
They would also prohibit fracking on federal lands, which is an issue that has come under heavy scrutiny in recent months, as well as on the Dakota Access Pipeline that has sparked protests.
The law was passed by the U.S. House in April and has been approved by the Senate.
It would give the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission authority to set rules on oil and natural gas drilling on federal and private lands, including rivers, streams, and oceans.
The agency would be required to develop rules on how drilling could impact the environment.
It’s unclear how the new regulations would affect the Keystone XL pipeline, a proposed 1,179-mile pipeline that would carry crude oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.
The pipeline was first proposed in 2009 and was eventually awarded a final environmental impact statement in April.
The new rules are expected to delay construction and will require approval by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
In a statement, a spokesperson for the White House Office of Management and Budget said the administration is “committed to supporting the oil and mineral leasing industry and is looking forward to a final rulemaking process.”
The legislation also includes provisions that would allow federal agencies to waive the law’s restrictions on oil exploration, including a requirement that the oil companies prove they have the necessary permits to drill on public land.
“It is our hope that these rules will help protect the environment while also supporting the drilling process for American oil and mining companies, and our nation’s economy,” said the spokesperson, Scott Pruitt.
The Environmental Protection Department declined to comment on the new laws.
A spokesperson for Rep. Debbie Dingell, the ranking Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said the new law was a “complete failure” and the “only thing that we really need is a full investigation and hearings” into the EPA’s rulemaking processes.
The White House also said the legislation would help with “the process to ensure that all Americans have access to clean, safe, reliable energy.”