Judge rules against Trump attempt to delay Obama water rule
A district court judge issued a ruling Thursday that overturns the Trump administration’s delay of the implementation of the Clean Water Rule.
The decision put a nationwide injunction on the administration’s suspension rule, reinstating the Obama-era rule — otherwise known as the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) — in 26 states.
The United States District Court in South Carolina ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had not followed the rule-making procedures by failing to give an adequate public notice and comment period as stipulated under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).
“As administrations change, so do regulatory priorities. But the requirements of the APA remain the same. The court finds that the government failed to comply with these requirements in implementing the Suspension Rule,” the court wrote.
The remaining 24 states were previously granted the ability by a federal judge to get out of the WOTUS regulations.
The Trump administration made its first moves to block WOTUS in January. President Trump officially signed the order directing the EPA to reconsider the 2015 rule in February.
The rule asserted federal power over small waterways like wetlands and streams for the purposes of controlling pollution under the Clean Water Act. Trump promised on the campaign trail to repeal the regulation.
“It’s a horrible, horrible rule. Has sort of a nice name, but everything else is bad,” Trump said at a White House signing ceremony, surrounded by Vice President Pence, first lady Melania Trump and top opponents of the regulation, including newly installed EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio.).
Environmental groups hailed the courts decision Thursday as a victory.
“Today’s federal injunction is a victory for communities across the country seeking access to clean drinking water. The Clean Water Rule is a landmark policy that protects the water of one in three Americans,” Athan Manuel, Sierra Club’s director of lands protection, said in a statement. “They should not have to ‘delay’ having access to clean water so polluters can fatten their wallets.”