The Trump administration finalized a rule Monday that would restrict the rights of states, tribes, and the public to object to gas pipelines and prohibit regulatory bodies from considering climate change in their permitting processes. Americans’ access to safe drinking water is starkly unequal along racial lines, so climate and environmental justice activists condemned the rule change, which has been expected for some time before being released during widespread civil unrest following the killing of an unarmed black man by a white police officer in Minnesota, all in the midst of a global pandemic.

If it survives the legal challenges already being prepared by numerous states, the new rule would upend nearly 50 years of Clean Water Act interpretation and would prevent actions by states like those recently taken by New York to block the construction of the Williams Pipeline. The American Gas Association praised the move while David Hayes, head of the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center at the New York University School of Law told the New York Times the rule was “the latest example of the Trump administration’s disdain for the rule of law, it is trying to excise states’ clean water rights to object to projects that violate state water quality standards.” (New York Times $, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Washington Post $, NPR State Impact, Politico Pro $, The Hill, E&E $, HuffPost, NPR, Washington Examiner