EPA water rule takes effect in some states

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) started enforcing its controversial water pollution jurisdiction rule Friday in all but 13 states.

Friday marks 60 days after the rule, known as the Clean Water Rule, was published in the Federal Register and the day that the agency planned to start enforcement along with the Army Corps of Engineers.

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In response to a petition from 13 states, a North Dakota federal judge temporarily blocked the rule’s implementation late Thursday, ruling that the states would likely suffer if it took effect and that they are likely to succeed when their underlying lawsuit against the rule is decided.

But the EPA is interpreting the North Dakota decision to apply only in the states involved in the litigation.

“The Clean Water Rule is fundamental to protecting and restoring the nation’s water resources that are vital for our health, environment, and economy,” EPA spokeswoman Melissa Harrison said. “EPA and the Department of the Army have been preparing to implement the rule on the effective date of August 28.”

The preliminary injunction, Harrison said, applies only in 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,” she said. “The agencies are evaluating these orders and considering next steps in the litigation.”

That interpretation is at odds with statements from both opponents and supporters of the regulation, which declares that small waterways such as streams and wetlands are subject to pollution-control rules under the Clean Water Act.

Rep. Jason ChaffetzJason Chaffetz41 Secret Service employees disciplined after Chaffetz leak Overnight Cybersecurity: Guccifer plea deal raises questions in Clinton probe Lawmakers: Social Security vulnerable to hackers MORE (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said the injunction is a big win for states’ rights.

“I am pleased that the arbitrary and subjective guidelines imposed by the EPA's [waters of the United States] rule will no longer go into effect today,” he said in a statement.

“This ruling is an important check on an administration that continues to overreach in its authority. Such flawed policy should never see the light of day.”

The National Wildlife Federation also seemed to believe that the entire rule had been blocked.

“An extensive body of science definitively proves the connections between these smaller waters and larger rivers, lakes and bays. This sound science, as required under the Clean Water Act, underpins the rule and will ensure that it is affirmed in the courts,” said Collin O’Mara, the group’s president.

“On behalf of fish, wildlife, and all Americans who love the outdoors, we will work tirelessly to ensure that these critical streams and wetlands are protected,” he said.