Injunction Against Federal Water Rule May Expand

31 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

EPA: Clean Water Rule in Effect Despite Court Ruling.

BISMARCK, N.D. A federal judge in North Dakota on Aug. 27 granted a request by Colorado and twelve other states in the West for a preliminary injunction against a rule issued by the U.S.WASHINGTON (AP) — The Environmental Protection Agency says it is going forward with a new federal rule to protect small streams, tributaries and wetlands, despite a court ruling that blocked the measure in 13 central and Western states including Idaho. The EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers say the Clean Water Rule, which went into effect Friday, clarifies which bodies of water are protected under the Clean Water Act. The judges in those decisions both ruled that the district court does not have jurisdiction to make a decision and the United States Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit would have to decide.

The rule has sparked multiple lawsuits from more than two dozen states, including Georgia, on the grounds that the federal government is trying to regulate water it has no legal control over. The court’s decision will prevent the rule from taking effect until the states’ claims can be fully addressed and resolved, and it includes a preliminary determination that the states’ claims are likely to succeed, the states said in a news release. “Colorado has primary responsibility to protect and manage its own water resources, and it takes that responsibility seriously,” said Colorado Attorney General Cynthia H. But North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, who filed the injunction request, says his reading of the ruling was that it applied to all 50 states.

Today the court agreed with Colorado and its fellow States that EPA likely overstepped its authority in trying to take control over state waters and, in doing so, poses a threat to state sovereignty. The other parties to that lawsuit are: North Dakota, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, South Dakota, Wyoming, the New Mexico Environment Department, and the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer. He says the rule is “beneficial for Montana; it’s not adverse for anyone here.” He called the injunction and Montana’s participation in it “disappointing.” “We’re short on water. District Court said “it appears likely that the EPA has violated its Congressional grant of authority in its promulgation of the Rule.” 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.

Fish and fowl are suffering, the cities are suffering, agriculture is suffering, and (the stakeholders supporting the injunction) are wondering if we’ll still have enough opportunity to pollute,” Farling said. “I’m scratching my head as to why the Attorney General (of Montana) is opposing this.” Montana’s Attorney General Tim Fox joined in the lawsuit with the other 12 states because he sees it as a states’ rights issue, he said through an emailed statement. Mark Thompson, who is both manager of environmental affairs for MR and president of the board for the Mining Association based in Whitehall, said he does have a concern that the new rule, if implemented, will change MR’s permitting process.

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