Friday, August 28, 2015
Judge Blocks EPA Streams & Wetlands Rule
Federal Judge Ralph Erickson of the District Court for the District of North Dakota acted late Thursday to block the Obama administration’s controversial water pollution rule over small waterways like streams and wetlands, hours before it was due to take effect. Judge Erickson found that the 13 states suing to block the rule met the conditions necessary for a preliminary injunction, including that they would likely be harmed if courts didn't act and that they are likely to succeed when their underlying lawsuit against the rule is decided.
The EPA believes the injunction only applies in the thirteen states that filed for it: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. In all other respects, the rule is effective on August 28, according to the EPA.
The Obama administration says the rule is necessary to protect small waterways from pollution or harm, as called for under the Clean Water Act.
As a preliminary injunction, Erickson’s ruling is designed only to last as long as the litigation persists, and can be overturned.
The 13 states, led by North Dakota, are participating in just one of 10 lawsuits against the water rule. In total, 29 states, along with business interests representing energy, developers, farmers and others are suing.
The cases have been consolidated into one lawsuit at the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati, but Erickson argued that he could still issue his injunction. Multiple litigants had requested injunctions in their lawsuits, and most had been dismissed and deferred to the Sixth Circuit. (The Hill, 8/27/2015)