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Judge Orders Trump to Reinstate Waters of the US Rule
USAgNet - 08/17/2018

A federal judge issued a nationwide injunction Thursday against the Trump administration for delaying the Obama-era Waters of the United States rule, dealing a setback to a key piece of President Trump's deregulatory agenda. The decision by the U.S. District Court in South Carolina means that the so-called Clean Water Rule is again operative in 26 states where district courts have not halted the regulation.

According to the Washington Examiner, opponents said EPA avoided the customary 30-day waiting period between the rule's finalization and its effective date, circumventing the Administrative Procedures Act, or APA.

"As administrations change, so do regulatory priorities," said Judge David Norton, an appointee of George H.W. Bush, in his ruling. "But the requirements of the APA remain the same. The court finds that the government failed to comply with these requirements."

Molly Block, an EPA spokeswoman, said the agency is reviewing the judge's order.

"EPA and the Army [Corps of Engineers] will review the order as the agencies work to determine next steps," she told the Washington Examiner.

The National Association of Manufacturers, a defendant in the case, said it would appeal the decision.

The Obama administration rule, published in June 2015, intended to clarify which waters and wetlands are protected by the Clean Water Act and are subject to federal regulation by the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers.

Farmers, ranchers, and developers said the rule violated their property rights, forcing them to protect the streams and tributaries that flow through their land.

The EPA recently sent its draft replacement rule to the White House for review, and it should be made public soon.

Under the proposal, the EPA and the Army Corps would enforce the water regulations under the older, limited definition of waterways, which included primarily large bodies of water like rivers.

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