Simon Greenhill, Hannah Druckenmiller, Sherrie Wang, David A. Keiser, Manuela Girotto, Jason K. Moore, Nobuhiro Yamaguchi, Alberto Todeschini, and Joseph Shapiro “Machine Learning Predicts Which Rivers, Streams, and Wetlands the Clean Water Act Regulates” (February 2024) | WP-346Blog Post
We assess which waters the Clean Water Act protects and how Supreme Court and White House rules change this regulation. We train a deep learning model using aerial imagery and geophysical data to predict 150,000 jurisdictional determinations from the Army Corps of Engineers, each deciding regulation for one water resource. Under a 2006 Supreme Court ruling, the Clean Water Act protects two-thirds of US streams and over half of wetlands; under a 2020 White House rule, it protects under half of streams and a fourth of wetlands, implying deregulation of 690,000 stream miles, 35 million wetland acres, and 30% of waters around drinking water sources. Our framework can support permitting, policy design, and use of machine learning in regulatory implementation problems.