The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Victory for Clean Water: Court Reinstates Obama WOTUS Rule for 26 States
The 2015 rule, also known as Waters of the United States (WOTUS) defines which waters can be protected from pollution and destruction under the Clean Water Act. It protects large water bodies such as lakes and rivers, as well as small streams and wetlands.
But last year, President Trump declared WOTUS "a horrible, horrible rule" and tasked then-U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott Pruitt to replace it. In February, Pruitt issued a "Suspension Rule" that delayed WOTUS until 2020 in order to craft a looser and more industry-friendly rule.
On Thursday, South Carolina District Judge David Norton sided with a coalition of conservation groups that challenged the delay, and placed a nationwide injunction on Pruitt's suspension rule. The decision does not apply to 24 other states where legal challenges are pending.
Norton said that the EPA violated rule-making procedures, specifically by failing to provide an adequate public notice and comment period required by the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).
"As administrations change, so do regulatory priorities. But the requirements of the APA remain the same. The court finds that the government failed to comply with these requirements in implementing the Suspension Rule," Norton wrote.
The court also cited the affidavit of Bob Irvin, president and CEO of American Rivers, which described the many different states where he has fished that would be affected by the suspension of the Clean Water Rule.
Irvin hailed the judgment as a "tremendous win."
"The court made clear that the Trump administration cannot ignore the law, science, or the views of the American people in its rush to undermine protection of rivers and clean water," Irvin said in a statement.
The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), which represented the conservation groups, celebrated the decision.
"This is a victory for families and communities across America who depend on clean water, and a rebuke to the polluting industries trying to gut this nation's bedrock health and environmental safeguards," said Geoff Gisler, senior attorney at SELC, in a statement. "Water is a way of life in the South, where clean water is the lifeblood of our economy. We are thrilled the court rejected this administration's blatant attempts to undermine safeguards that are critical to our nation's welfare without being accountable to the American people."
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Judge Blocks Oil and Gas Drilling on 300,000 Acres in Wyoming Until Government Considers Climate Impacts
Global Banks, Led by JPMorgan Chase, Invested $1.9 Trillion in Fossil Fuels Since Paris Climate Pact
By Sharon Kelly
A report published Wednesday names the banks that have played the biggest recent role in funding fossil fuel projects, finding that since 2016, immediately following the Paris agreement's adoption, 33 global banks have poured $1.9 trillion into financing climate-changing projects worldwide.
By Patti Lynn
2018 was a groundbreaking year in the public conversation about climate change. Last February, The New York Times reported that a record percentage of Americans now believe that climate change is caused by humans, and there was a 20 percentage point rise in "the number of Americans who say they worry 'a great deal' about climate change."
England faces an "existential threat" if it does not change how it manages its water, the head of the country's Environment Agency warned Tuesday.
By Jessica Corbett
A new analysis revealed Tuesday that over the past two decades heat records across the U.S. have been broken twice as often as cold ones—underscoring experts' warnings about the increasingly dangerous consequences of failing to dramatically curb planet-warming emissions.
By Madison Dapcevich
Ask any resident of San Francisco about the waterfront parrots, and they will surely tell you a story of red-faced conures squawking or dive-bombing between building peaks. Ask a team of researchers from the University of Georgia, however, and they will tell you of a mysterious string of neurological poisonings impacting the naturalized flock for decades.
The initial cause of the fire was not yet known, but it has been driven by the strong wind and jumped the North Santiam River, The Salem Statesman Journal reported. As of Tuesday night, it threatened around 35 homes and 30 buildings, and was 20 percent contained.