Environmental Protection Agency

Updated 3:34 p.m. ET

The Trump administration has escalated its fight with California over environmental regulations.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler sent a letter Monday to the California Air Resources Board threatening to withdraw billions of dollars in federal highway money unless the state clears a backlog of air pollution control plans.

The Trump administration is changing the definition of what qualifies as "waters of the United States," tossing out an Obama-era regulation that had enhanced protections for wetlands and smaller waterways.

Thursday's rollback is the first step in a process that will allow the Trump administration to create its own definition of which waters deserve federal protection. A new rule is expected to be finalized this winter.

Lead-based paint was extremely popular in the early and mid-20th century — used in an estimated 38 million homes across the U.S. before it was banned for residential use in 1978.

Bill Wehrum is stepping down as the Environmental Protection Agency's chief air quality official at the end of the month, amid mounting scrutiny over possible ethics violations.

EPA Administrator Andrew Andrew Wheeler said Wednesday that Wehrum's departure as the head of the agency's Office of Air and Radiation is both voluntary and expected.

Scott Pruitt, the former head of the Environmental Protection Agency, and his staff spent roughly $124,000 in excessive travel costs during a ten-month period, according to a new report from EPA's internal watchdog.

Several members of a powerful science panel for the Environmental Protection Agency expressed doubt at a hearing Thursday about the long-established scientific consensus that air pollution can cause premature death.

The panel was meeting to consider recommendations that would fundamentally change how the agency analyzes the public health dangers posed by air pollution and could lead to weaker regulation of soot.

Pollution, much like wealth, is not distributed equally in the United States.

Scientists and policymakers have long known that black and Hispanic Americans tend to live in neighborhoods with more pollution of all kinds, than white Americans. And because pollution exposure can cause a range of health problems, this inequity could be a driver of unequal health outcomes across the U.S.

Eric Perez and his wife, Mari, live with their five children in the Wenatchee Valley in central Washington state. Their house is just feet from an orchard. A couple of years ago, the kids were having an Easter egg hunt in the yard when they smelled something "plasticky," Perez remembers — like "rotten eggs."

Perez says they realized the orchard must have been sprayed while the family was away for their Easter lunch.

Perez says they got stomachaches, started throwing up and having trouble breathing and got diarrhea and scratchy throats.

Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist who has been serving as the acting EPA administrator since July, faced Senate lawmakers on Wednesday for his first confirmation hearing to lead the agency.

He defended his record on rolling back Obama-era environmental regulations as Democrats assailed his ties to business and his lack of urgency on the issue of climate change.

"The Trump Administration has proven that burdensome environmental regulations are not necessary to drive environmental progress," Wheeler said. "I am very proud of the work I did."

When we set out to try to look back on the year that was in politics, we started with a list that grew ... and grew ... and grew. After a couple of days, the list was just shy of 100 news events. That's about one notable story every three days.

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