A federal judge has blocked the Obama administration's controversial rule defining the scope of Clean Water Act protections from going into effect August 28, 2015.
The Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule has been challenged in multiple courts across the country. A U.S. District Court Judge issued a ruling in relation to one of these lawsuits, which was brought by more than a dozen states led by North Dakota. The judge, appointed by President George W. Bush, said that the challenging states are "likely to succeed" in their lawsuit because U.S. EPA appeared to exceed authority granted by the Clean Water Act in determining its jurisdiction, and issued a preliminary injunction halting the rule from implementation. "The risk of irreparable harm to the States is both imminent and likely," he wrote, adding that, "on the whole, the greater public interest favors issuance of the preliminary injunction."
However, the injunction only affects the states involved in this particular case. In those 13 states -- Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming – implementation of the new Waters of the U.S. rule is on hold. For all other states, the rule goes into effect August 28. EPA is still evaluating its further legal options.
AGC will be discussing this and other issues relating to WOTUS with Corps and EPA at the AGC Contractors Environmental Conference next week.