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The Environmental Protection Agency is pledging to enforce its new “wetland rules” even though a federal judge has issued a stay order on the rule in 13 states. Several authorities, including state-based environmental authorities have argued that the rule is overly broad, and that the EPA is infringing on state sovereignty by attempting to regulate even tiny waterways.
The EPA claims that they instituted the new “wetland rule,” which defines “wetland” to mean most instances of standing water short of large puddles, fills a hole in an earlier rule that left “60%” of American wetlands unprotected. The new rule, the EPA claims, would force a permitting process for any entity that pollutes or has the potential to pollute body of water that has a “significant and direct connection” to a larger body of water.
Either way, the EPA is not interested in obeying the Federal court that’s tasked with judging which side is correct.
The Environmental Protection Agency says it is going forward with a new federal rule to protect small streams, tributaries and wetlands, despite a court ruling that blocked the measure in 13 central and Western states.
The EPA says the rule, which took effect Friday in more than three dozen states, will safeguard drinking water for millions of Americans.
Opponents pledged to continue to fight the rule, emboldened by a federal court decision Thursday that blocked it from Alaska to Arkansas…
The federal ruling Thursday was in North Dakota, where officials from that state and 12 others argued the new guidelines are overly broad and infringe on their sovereignty. U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson in Fargo agreed that they might have a case, issuing a temporary injunction.
The EPA said after the ruling that it would not implement the new rules in those 13 states — Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.
Several other lawsuits remain, from other states and also from farm and business groups.
The court stayed enforcement of the rule for a reason: opponents claim that the rule is so broad as to encompass nearly any body of standing water on any land.
Saying that the rule may govern “drainpipes and puddles” is exaggerating the issue somewhat, but the plaintiffs do claim that the rule is so broad that it makes it next to impossible to say what won’t be affected, especially if the EPA is looking for something to hold a company accountable for. Standing water on grazing land, for instance, may not be “significant” to a farmer, but if the EPA wants to declare the land its on under their sovereignty, farmers are concerned that they could use the rule as an excuse to take over. Since such a takeover – or even a monetary fine – could constitute an irreparable harm under the law, the federal ruling declared that the EPA cannot enforce the rule until a court determines whether its Constitutional.
The EPA, however, considers the wetland problem to be of immediate urgency, so apparently they’ll take their chances. Their first targets are, of course, unclear. They could certainly, say, go after a major entity that may have leaked millions of gallons of mine waste-water into a major American waterway – themselves.