Suit alleges suspension violates Clean Water Act,
Administrative Procedure Act
Ferguson filed a lawsuit
Tuesday to block the Environmental Protection Agency’s attempt
to suspend a 2015 rule that defines what waters qualify for federal
Clean Water Act regulation while the Trump Administration attempts to
Tuesday’s legal action represents Ferguson’s 21st
legal challenge against the Trump Administration since January of
2017 and so far Ferguson has pitched a perfect no hitter, having not
lost even one of those challenges. One case is still being litigated.
“The “waters of the United States” rule provides
much-needed clarity about which waters qualify for protection under
the Clean Water Act,” said a statement from Ferguson’s
office about the lawsuit. “Before the rule, a patchwork of
state and federal rules regulated runoff from some upstream bodies.
This made pollution difficult to control. The rule particularly helps
states like Washington that have waterways impacted by upstream
sources in neighboring states.”
The suit, filed with 9 other states and the District of
accuses the EPA of violating the Administrative Procedure Act and the
Clean Water Act by suspending the rule after its effective date had
already passed, and failing to provide a meaningful opportunity for
public input on its decision.
“I won’t allow the Trump Administration to continue to
ignore the law to try to undermine important environmental rules
simply because it doesn’t like them,” Ferguson said.
“This thoroughly vetted rule adds much-needed clarity to the
laws that protect our waterways. If the Administration wants to
change it, it must follow the law.”
“This Administration’s continual efforts to
unilaterally roll back crucial protections for our nation’s
beautiful spaces and the health and safety of all Americans will not
go unchecked,” Gov. Jay Inslee said. “The people of
Washington state have deep ties to our waterways. Our rivers,
streams, lakes and coast are embedded in our culture, our economy and
our quality of life. This is a legacy worth protecting, and we will
pursue every available option to do so.”
The 2015 Clean Water Rule’s definition of “waters of
the United States” clears up ambiguities in 1980s-era
regulations by providing a clear definition of waters covered by the
Clean Water Act.
As the Attorney General of Oklahoma, current EPA Administrator
Scott Pruitt joined several state Attorneys General to challenge the
“waters of the United States” rule in federal court.
Ferguson and several other state Attorneys General intervened in the
suit to defend the rule.
In July of 2017, the EPA, under Pruitt, published a proposed
to repeal the “waters of the United States” definition,
reverting to the pre-existing 1980s-era regulations.
The EPA proposed separately to suspend the “waters of the
United States” rule for two years while it considers the
repeal, but only allowed a short window for public comments on the
proposed suspension. Today, the EPA issued a final rule suspending
the “waters of the United States” rule. Consequently,
Ferguson and other state Attorneys General are filing a legal
challenge alleging a violation of the Administrative Procedure Act.
Ferguson is asking the U.S. District Court for the Southern
District of New York to declare the EPA’s suspension unlawful
and set it aside.