Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Victory for Clean Water: Court Reinstates Obama WOTUS Rule for 26 States

Politics
Victory for Clean Water: Court Reinstates Obama WOTUS Rule for 26 States
Jones Gap State Park in Greenville County, South Carolina. Jason A G / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

A federal judge invalidated the Trump administration's suspension of the Clean Water Rule, effectively reinstating the Obama-era regulation in 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."

Colette Pichon Battle, attorney, founder, and executive director of the Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy. Colette Pichon Battle

By Karen L. Smith-Janssen

Colette Pichon Battle gave a December 2019 TEDWomen Talk on the stark realities of climate change displacement, and people took notice. The video racked up a million views in about two weeks. The attorney, founder, and executive director of the Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy (GCCLP) advocates for climate justice in communities of color. Confronted with evidence showing how her own South Louisiana coastal home of Bayou Liberty will be lost to flooding in coming years, the 2019 Obama Fellow dedicates herself to helping others still reeling from the impacts of Katrina face the heavy toll that climate change has taken—and will take—on their lives and homelands. Her work focuses on strengthening multiracial coalitions, advocating for federal, state, and local disaster mitigation measures, and redirecting resources toward Black communities across the Gulf South.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A palm tree plantation in Malaysia. Yann Arthus-Bertrand / Getty Images Plus

Between 2000 and 2013, Earth lost an area of undisturbed ecosystems roughly the size of Mexico.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A home burns during the Bobcat Fire in Juniper Hills, California on September 18, 2020. Kyle Grillot / AFP/ Getty Images

By Stuart Braun

"These are not just wildfires, they are climate fires," Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington State, said as he stood amid the charred remains of the town of Malden west of Seattle earlier this month. "This is not an act of God," he added. "This has happened because we have changed the climate of the state of Washington in dramatic ways."

Read More Show Less
A new report from Oxfam found that the wealthiest one percent of the world produced a carbon footprint that was more than double that of the bottom 50 percent of the world. PickPik

A new report from Oxfam found that the wealthiest one percent of the world produced a carbon footprint that was more than double that of the bottom 50 percent of the world, The Guardian reported. The study examined 25 years of carbon dioxide emissions and wealth inequality from 1990 to 2015.

Read More Show Less
The label of one of the recalled thyroid medications. FDA

If you are taking medication for an underactive thyroid, check your prescription.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch