10 attorneys general claim EPA illegally suspended water rule

[Today, attorneys general for nine states and the District of Columbia sued the Environmental Protection Agency over its suspension of a rule that clarified which waters are protected under the Clean Water Act.

Filed in federal court in New York against the EPA, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, the United States Army Corps of Engineers and its acting assistant secretary, Ryan Fisher, the lawsuit alleges the agencies illegally suspended the rule and did so without providing “a rational explanation” for the decision.

The EPA suspended of the Obama-era Clean Water Rule today, delaying the rule from taking effect for two years. The suspension reinstates a decades-old definition of American waters under Clean Water Act protection.

In his previous role as Oklahoma’s attorney general, Pruitt sued the EPA in 2015 over the water rule, alleging it was unconstitutional and would hurt farmers, developers and other Oklahomans required to obtain necessary permits. Since its inception, conservatives have pegged the rule as an example of government overreach, and President Donald Trump issued an executive order for Pruitt to repeal and replace the rule when he first took office.

The EPA is still considering a repeal of the Clean Water Rule, and Pruitt is working on a new version of the rule that is anticipated to be less strict than the previous one.

In their lawsuit, the District of Columbia and the states (California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont) claim that the EPA didn’t consider the impact to the environment and public health when it suspended the rule. They also claim that the agency violated the Administrative Procedure Act by giving the suspension a public comment period that was “too short for an important and complex rule.”

Contact Mollie Bryant at 405-990-0988 or bryant@bigiftrue.org. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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