On Thursday afternoon, Judge Ralph Erickson of the District Court for the District of North Dakota issued an injunction blocking the Obama administration’s controversial water pollution rule, hours before it was due to take effect. The decision was thought to be a major roadblock for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which was looking forward on Friday to begin enforcing the Waters of the United States rule, expanding federal jurisdiction over small waterways, like streams and wetlands (and puddles).
But the EPA’s reaction was Judge-Schmudge as on Friday they put into effect new water regulations, despite a federal judge’s decision to place a temporary hold on the rule. Their position was is that the Judge’s ruling only stopped them from implementing the rule in the 13 states that filed the North Dakota lawsuit.
“The Clean Water Rule is fundamental to protecting and restoring the nation’s water resources that are vital for our health, environment and economy,” said Melissa Harrison, a spokeswoman for the agency. She says the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers “have been preparing to implement the rule on the effective date of Aug. 28.”
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The rule increases EPA jurisdiction over ditches [Okay maybe not puddles but ditches?], tributaries and other small waterways, making farmers, ranchers and other land developers subject to federal enforcement actions under the Clean Water Act.
The judge’s temporary injunction didn’t mention only in the 13 states behind that particular suit (other states are suing to stop the law in their own regional circuit courts) but the EPA has decided on its own that the ruling only applies to Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming, according to the EPA.
The Judge who issued the injunction did so because “The risk of irreparable harm to the states is both imminent and likely.”
“Delaying implementation to allow a full and final resolution on the merits is in the best interests of the public,” Erickson said. The judge said the states’ arguments against the rule have standing, and it can move forward to hear the case based on the merits. The injunction would give it more time to fully vet the merits of the case.
This is just one more example of the arrogance of this administration which acts more like a dictatorship than one of three co-equal branches of government.