You are here

13 States Say EPA Water Pollution Rule Should Be Blocked Nationwide

Oct 2015

Thirteen states and the Obama administration are battling in court over whether a new federal water pollution rule should apply in every state.

The Obama administration argues that the Clean Water Act clearly requires it to protect the small streams, wetlands and other bodies of water that the new regulations cover. The water rule has been highly controversial with many business groups and Republicans arguing that it greatly expands the federal government’s jurisdiction.

A North Dakota federal judge blocked the rule’s implementation last week, hours before it was due to take effect. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), however, said it will still enforce the new regulation in every state that is not involved with that lawsuit.
But the 13 states, led by North Dakota, said late Tuesday in a court filing that the regulation should be blocked everywhere in the name of consistency and because they will likely win the case.

Whose Jurisdiction Rules?

The EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers “have repeatedly asserted that uniform applicability, consistency, and predictability were driving forces in the need for and development of the rule,” the states wrote.

“Only after this court enjoined the rule from taking effect … the agencies were quick to abandon their uniform applicability concerns in favor of seeking to limit the scope of this court’s ruling.”

The states additionally argued that the EPA’s decision to enforce the rule in 37 states “is contrary to, and in defiance of, the court’s injunction order.”

The EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers defended their interpretation, saying that it is reasonable given Judge Ralph Erickson’s ruling last week and the law.

“Consistent with Supreme Court precedent … federal defendants interpret the court’s August 27 order to apply only to these states as parties before the court and to remedy the specific irreparable harms to these states that the court identified,” they wrote.
Not every state in the nation is challenging the regulation. And other states that are suing are awaiting court decisions or have had their motions rejected.