Friday, August 28, 2015

Judge slaps down EPA water rule, citing 'risk of irreparable harm to the states'

The Environmental Protection Agency received a big face-slap from a federal judge in North Dakota who ruled the entity cannot go forward with a new rule that would give it massive control over waterways, at least for the time being.

U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson issued a temporary injunction against the rule, which has been widely criticized as a massive bureaucratic overreach that would lead to brutal crackdowns on developments near the smallest of bodies of waters, as WND has previously reported, here and here, and again, here. Basically, critics of the rule had argued the regulation would give the EPA the power to developments and other land activities next to even puddles of water – something the government derided as untrue. Critics also said the rule would result in costly compliance measures for developers, energy companies, businesses, farmers and ranchers and other private property owners – all denied by the government.

The federal judge, however, sided with the rule's critics and found in favor of the states.

Erickson's view, from Fox News: "The risk of irreparable harm to the states is both imminent and likely," he said.

His ruling comes from a case brought by 13 states, requesting the court suspend EPA waterway rules that were deemed as infringements on the Tenth Amendment and the states' right of sovereignty.

Among the states that petitioned the court: North Dakota, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, South Dakota and Wyoming. It wasn't clear if the judge's injunction would apply to even those states that weren't parties to the petition.

But private property rights advocates and some politicians were cheering Erickson's ruling as a big win.

"North Dakota landowners and energy workers and their peers around the country will be temporarily spared the devastating consequences of an onerous rule. This is appropriate, given the judicial history of this issue and its impact on states and property rights. The injunction provides time for Congress to continue working toward a fix and for a complete judicial review of the legal merits of the rule," said North Dakota state congressman Kevin Cramer, Fox News reported.

And Julia Slingsby, the press secretary of the Natural Resources Committee, said to the news outlet: "The Waters of the United States rule is unlawful and an abuse of executive power. The judge’s decision to block the rule, which was challenged by 13 states, is encouraging, especially as EPA’s credibility has been questioned in the past month. The EPA needs to be stopped before it does more harm to our nation’s precious water resources."

The 13 states sought court action after attorneys general for more than 30 states sent a letter to the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers requesting a delay of the rule's implementation for several months, but were never answered. So they went to court for the preliminary injunction.

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