By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Thursday, August 28, a federal judge issued an injunction on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) and the US Army Corps of Engineers’ effort to dramatically expand its power and authority, by redefining its authority to include private ponds and drainage ditches. Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange (R) applauded the ruling.
Luther Strange said on Facebook, “Obama’s EPA is dealt a blow as a federal judge partially blocks implementation of Waters of the US rule. A positive first step in the longer court battle to kill this illegal power grab against private property owners.”
President Obama (without consulting the American people’s representatives in the US Congress) unilaterally extended the EPA’s regulatory hand to ditches and small streams to enforce clean water rules by redefining the “waters of the United States” from navigable water to all water. 13 states sued saying that d the administration has overstepped its authority when it made new rules expanding its power.
Judge Ralph R. Erickson agreed and called the Environmental Protection Agency’s attempt “inexplicable, arbitrary and devoid of a reasoned process,” and issued an injunction preventing the EPA and the US Army Corps of Engineers from claiming oversight of millions of acres of land that contain small bodies of water. The clean water act is enforced by the EPA, while wetlands protection is assigned to the Corps of Engineers.
The EPA announced that it will only honor the injunction in the 13 states that were parties to the suit, and will move forward with the rules in the rest of the country. The EPA said “In all other respects, the rule is effective on August 28: The agencies are evaluating these orders and considering next steps in the litigation.”
Judge Erickson wrote, “The rule asserts jurisdiction over waters that are remote and intermittent waters. No evidence actually points to how these intermittent and remote wetlands have any nexus to a navigable-in-fact water.”
The new rules effectively give the federal government de-facto zoning authority over the entire country including over current activities. Judge Erickson said that the change in definition was big enough that the administration should have gone through a full public notice and comment period.
The Spokesperson for the House Natural Resources Committee Julia Slingsby agrees with the states who sued the federal government and said, “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 that sued are: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. Alabama is likely to seek to join the suit and thus gain some temporary protection from the massive federal power grab while the issue is litigated.
(Original reporting by Stephen Dinan of the Washington Times, whose article was cited by AG Strange on Facebook, contributed to this report)