EPA's clean water rule halted Email


Image by Blake Richard VerdoornA North Dakota federal judge on Thursday blocked the implementation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineer's rule clarifying the jurisdictional scope of the Clean Water Act, calling the measure "exceptionally expansive."

Hours before it was to take effect, U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson issued a temporary injunction after 13 states, including Colorado, took legal action to stop the rule. 

The decision was met with controversy, as the judge said that the injunction should apply to all states. EPA, however, said that they ruling should apply only to the 13 states named in the lawsuit. They planned to enforce the rule in the remaining states beginning Friday, August 28.

The National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) issued the following statement regarding this decision:

Big win against WOTUS
Late yesterday, August 27, a federal judge in North Dakota blocked the implementation of the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Water of the United States rule, which was slated to take effect today, August 28. There continues to be some speculation about whether the court’s ruling applies only to the 13 states involved in the litigation or to the entire country.

In issuing a preliminary injunction against the rule, Judge Ralph Erickson of the District Court for the District of North Dakota found that the 13 states who brought the lawsuit would likely be harmed without court intervention. Several other WOTUS related lawsuits by states and industry groups are pending in other jurisdictions.

Following the ruling, EPA said in a statement that the injunction only impacts the thirteen states that filed for it: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. EPA said that the rule will take effect today for all other states and that EPA is evaluating the court order. Many industry groups disagree with EPA’s narrow interpretation of the court order. NALP is watching the litigation discussion closely, and will continue to provide you with further updates and analyses.

In the meantime, NALP is continuing to vigorously push for relief from Congress. Thanks to everyone who took the time to call their Senators yesterday in support of Federal Clean Water Protection Act (S.1140). There are presently 43 cosponsors of the bill with some democrats signing on. We are continuing to encourage the Senate to follow the House’s example and pass legislation to force EPA and the Corps to withdraw the rule. We will keep you updated on our advocacy efforts.

Congress returns on Tuesday, Sept. 8, which means there is an opportunity to pass S. 1140, which if passed, and signed into law by President Obama, would require EPA to rewrite many aspects of the rule including definitions of adjacency, significant nexus, tributaries and what constitutes a ditch.

Previously on the LAB:
WOTUS Congressional call-in day
WOTUS final rule faces multiple lawsuits
What is a WOTUS?

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