Environmental Notes - October 2015

Williams Mullen

In a significant setback for the Obama Administration, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has temporarily blocked implementation of the Clean Water Rule issued jointly by EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last June. The rule defined “Waters of the United States” and was designed to put to rest years of controversy about the extent of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act over wetlands and other waters. That didn’t happen. Within weeks of its issuance, over 70 parties – including 31 states – filed suit to overturn the rule. Three federal judges in different states were petitioned to temporarily block it while it was challenged in court. Only one of the three – a federal judge in North Dakota – granted an injunction. His order – issued on August 27, just one day before the effective date – blocked the rule from taking effect in 13 western states. Undeterred, EPA issued a press release the next day saying it would enforce the rule in the rest of the country.

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