A federal judge on Friday declined to halt the Obama administration's controversial water rule nationwide, rebuffing the request of 13 states that are battling with the Environmental Protection Agency.
Judge Ralph Erickson of the North Dakota U.S. District Court ruled that there are “significant prudential reasons to limit the scope” of the injunction he already gave the 13 states last week. Other courts have denied injunctions, he said, and some states want to implement the “Waters of the United States” rule.
Erickson issued an injunction last Thursday blocking a sweeping new EPA rule in 13 states. At the time, he argued the states met the conditions necessary for an injunction, including concerns the rule would harm them and their chances of winning an underlying lawsuit against the regulations later on.
After the decision, the EPA said it would continue to implement the rule in every state except those that won the injunction. This week, those states, led by North Dakota, asked the judge to extend his injunction nationwide.
The states argued that 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,” and that consistency should apply to the injunction against it, as well.
But Erickson wrote Friday that “because there are competing sovereign interests and competing judicial rulings, the court declines to extend the preliminary injunction at issue beyond the entities actually before it.”
States and industry groups have argued the rule is an unjust expansion of the federal government’s jurisdiction over water pollution.
The EPA and Obama administration have said the rule is legal and called it a necessary step in protecting water around the country.