Friday, August 28, 2015

U.S. District Court of North Dakota Grants Motion to Enjoin EPA Clean Water Rule

On August 27, 2015, the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota granted a motion to enjoin the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from applying the Clean Water Rule. This regulation changes the scope of “Waters of the United States” federally regulated under the Clean Water Act. The rule was scheduled to be effective on August 28, 2015.

In June 2015, a group of states led by North Dakota challenged the Clean Water Rule alleging that the rule would unlawfully supersede state laws vesting jurisdiction over state land and water resources beyond the limits established under the Clean Water Act. On August 10, 2015, the states filed a motion for a preliminary injunction against the implementation of said rule arguing that it would “irreparably harm” their sovereign interests during the pendency of litigation.

The U.S. District Court held that “a balancing of the harms and analysis of the public interest reveals that the risk of harm to the States is great and the burden on [EPA] is slight.” It also emphasized that EPA failed to demonstrate a nexus between “Waters of the United States” and those streams and wetlands having high potential to impact said “Waters of the United States”.

Therefore, the U.S. District Court concluded that the states are likely to be successful in their claims because “it appears that the EPA has violated its Congressional grant of authority in its promulgation of the Rule at issue, and . . . it appears likely the EPA failed to comply with APA requirements when promulgating the rule.”

Further information on this case is available at docket no. 3:15-cv-00059. This is an update of an original post dated August 13, 2015. 

Written by Chloe Marie - Research Fellow

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