“Hill: New York to Sue EPA Over Obama Water Rule Delay”
February 2, 2018
As published by The Hill, on February 1, 2018.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) pledged Thursday to lead a “multistate” lawsuit against the Trump administration for delaying a major water pollution rule.
Schneiderman’s statement, one day after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the two-year delay, did not specify the states that would join him.
“The Trump administration’s suspension of the Clean Water Rule threatens to eliminate protections for millions of miles of streams and acres of wetlands across the country,” he said in a statement.
“The Trump administration’s suspension of these vital protections is reckless and illegal. That is why I will lead a multistate coalition that will sue to block this rollback in court,” he said.
The Natural Resources Defense Council has also pledged to sue over the delay, and other environmental groups including the Sierra Club and Earthjustice hinted at potential lawsuits as well.
An EPA spokesman declined to comment, saying the agency does not weigh in on pending litigation.
The Clean Water Rule, also known as Waters of the United States, was due to take effect in 2015. But it never did, because various federal courts halted its implementation.
Wednesday’s delay allows EPA head Scott Pruitt to work on his proposal to fully repeal the rule and a separate rule to replace it, without fear of the 2015 regulation taking effect. The Supreme Court last month overturned the court stay, so it could go into effect soon without the newest delay.
The Obama rule would have clarified the federal government’s jurisdiction over small waterways like streams and wetlands under the Clean Water Act.
Pruitt, Republicans and many business groups say it goes too far and gives federal officials power over large swaths of land that are often dry.
Schneiderman has sued the Trump administration dozens of times in the past year over numerous policy decisions across the government, including environmental rollbacks or delays.
In his previous job as Oklahoma’s attorney general, Pruitt sued the EPA more than a dozen times, including over the Clean Water Rule.