Injunction against federal water rule may expand

31 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Chaffetz Statement on WOTUS Injunction.

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A federal judge in North Dakota is allowing arguments over the scope of his injunction blocking a new Obama administration rule that would give the federal government jurisdiction over some smaller waterways. The EPA said after the ruling that it would not implement the new rules in those 13 states – Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.Instead, she’s sees a “political situation where industry has gone to friendly states and persuaded them to advocate on their behalf against any federal regulations that are about the environment”.Since the rule was originally proposed previous year, the EPA has been working to clear up what it says are misconceptions, such as critics’ assertions that average backyard puddles would be regulated.

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) urged the Obama Administration to hold off on the national enforcement of the new Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) regulation, in response to a court decision last week suspending the regulation in some states, but not others. Peterson says the decision by the North Dakota judge suspends the rule from going into effect in the 13 states while those states try to make their case in court. The rule, authored by the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers expands the reach of the Clean Water Act to protect US streams and wetlands from pollution.

The Nebraska Farm Bureau said the new regulations could require farmers to get expensive federal permits for common activities like building fences and using pesticides or face legal repercussions. The states’ challenge to the rule will still need to be briefed, argued, and decided by the court, but today’s injunction will maintain the status quo until the case is fully decided, the court held. District Judge Ralph Erickson in Fargo issued a temporary injunction last week that was requested by North Dakota and 12 other states to stop the U.S. The Court found that it was likely that the EPA violated its grant of authority when it promulgated the Rule and likely failed to comply with the requirements in the Administrative Procedures Act.

Koster said the agencies’ new definition of “waters of the United States” extends the agencies’ regulation far beyond what a reasonable person considers to be a waterway. It also “arbitrarily establishes the distances from a navigable water that are subject to regulation”, roping in any damp patch within 4,000 feet-a number that, it appears, was plucked out of thin air. “There is much more to do to prevent this widely unpopular rule from ever taking effect”. The conclusion states’ discretion is not affected is a bit odd in that the judge later concludes that the state plaintiffs satisfied all the criteria for a preliminary injunction, including irreparable harm caused by the rule. Critics contend the rule vastly expands the federal government’s authority and could apply to ditches and small isolated bodies of water. “I urge the Senate to follow the House’s approach to block this economically devastating and completely unnecessary rule once and for all”. “If the EPA actually wants to protect navigable waters as it claims, they will put this subjective and ambiguous rule to rest and start over with stakeholders at the table this time around”. Clean water is central to healthy ecosystems, secure water supplies for human and animal consumption, and to the production of milk and other dairy products.

It seems likely that Judge Erickson’s jurisdictional determination will not stand, and his reliance on the confidential exchanges between the Corps and EPA is a little disturbing. “I have been opposed to this ridiculous rule from its inception”. Farmers and business owners are anxious because they don’t know exactly how the new rule would affect them, he said. “We’re hopeful that this will result in the rule being pulled down”. For example, the judge said Wyoming would have to bear the cost of issuing permits and has no way of avoiding the increased expenses under the regulation.

She says citizens need only look at his support for the land exchange that gave an worldwide mining company rights to mine copper from Oak Flat, a sacred area to Native-American tribes in the region and popular recreation area, or his opposition to the mineral withdrawal around the Grand Canyon that put a prohibition on any new uranium mines in the area for 20 years. “We all want to ensure protection of our waterways and natural resources, but this one-size-fits-all requirement from Washington that doesn’t take into account Arizona’s unique landscapes is the wrong answer”. The rule would broaden that to include, among other water bodies, upstream waters and intermittent and ephemeral streams such as the kind farmers use for drainage and irrigation.

Madeleine Foote, the group’s legislative representative, is in favor of the water ruling implementation and stated, “This is a bad decision for the 1 in 3 Americans who have already been waiting too long for these vital protections for their drinking water”. It’s not as if Obama’s EPA officials have anything better to do with their time – like, say, clean up the river they just polluted with 3 million gallons of toxic mining waste. Though McCain has questioned the EPA’s role in the causing the spill, he has avoided some of the more particularly outrageous language espoused by other Republicans.

As previously noted, EPA released its draft WOTUS rule before the work of the Science Advisory Board was complete, thus raising questions as to the rule’s scientific objectivity. First, Congress conferred original jurisdiction for challenges to EPA “effluent limitations or other limitations” and for permit decisions upon the Circuit Courts of Appeal.

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