Thursday, August 13, 2015

Oil and Gas Producing States seek to Enjoin EPA Clean Water Rule

On August 10, 2015, a group of states led by North Dakota filed a motion for preliminary injunction before the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota seeking an order enjoining the EPA from implementing the Clean Water Rule. The rule is set to go into effect on August 28, 2015. The states of Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, South Dakota, and Wyoming have joined North Dakota in this request.

On May 27, 2015, the U.S. Environment Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers promulgated a new regulation concerning the scope of streams and wetlands that are federally protected under the Clean Water Act. According to the states’ allegations, the rule “provides sweeping changes to the jurisdictional reach of Clean Water Act . . . drastically altering the administration of water quality programs implemented by the States, EPA, and the Corps.” The states also argue that expanding the scope of bodies of water subject to federal control “will irreparably harm the States’ sovereign interests and their State budgets during the pendency of this litigation.”

Just as the states, stakeholders in the oil and gas industry are worried about the potential impacts that the Clean Water Rule could have on energy resource development, according to media reports. As declared by Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) Executive Vice President Lee Fuller, the outcome of such rule will bring “serious concerns about retroactive application of the rulemaking and added costs on business operations.”

The case remains pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota Southeastern Division at docket no. 3:15-cv-00059-RRE-ARS.

Other groups of states and organizations separately challenged the Clean Water Rule, and cases have been filed in numerous U.S. District Courts. On July 29, 2015, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation issued an order consolidating the petitions for review of these cases within the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.  

Written by Chloe Marie - Research Fellow

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