The Supreme Court declined Monday to hear a case challenging an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule that allows governments to transfer water between water bodies with few restrictions.
The decision leaves in place a ruling from the Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, which last year upheld the 2008 rule.
The Clean Water Act usually prohibits dumping pollutants into waterways regulated by the federal government. But under the so-called Water Transfers Rule, cities and states can move water between lakes, rivers and other water bodies without getting a discharge permit.
Environmentalists and some Democratic states sued to stop the rule, saying it improperly permits dirtier water to enter cleaner waterways. The initial judge on the case overturned the rule, but the 2nd Circuit Court disagreed on appeal, leading to the Supreme Court request.
“Such water transfers can indisputably add pollutants to the receiving water body — for example, by moving salt water into a freshwater stream, conveying water contaminated with fecal coliform into a pristine lake, or pumping invasive species into uninfected water bodies,” the states, led by New York, told the court last year.
The federal government under both the Obama and Trump administrations, with the support of businesses and some local and state governments, defended the rule and asked the high court not to take the appeal. Officials argued that the rule aligned with long-standing congressional and EPA interpretations of the Clean Water Act.