Sunday, October 24, 2021

Former Trump EPA Official Questions Court Order Hitting Key Water Rule

On August 30, Obama administration-appointed US District Court Judge Rosemary Marquez for the District of Arizona remanded and vacated the Trump administration’s 2020 Navigable Water Conservation Rule (NWPR), which a former Trump Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued. had criticized. ) Official and Senate Republicans.

The NWPR changed the Obama administration’s 2015 Clean Water Rule to interpret “water of the United States” (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act of 1972.

The Trump rule has been opposed by environmental organizations such as the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which claimed the rule “misrepresents the science on streams and wetlands” and “poses substantial risks to our waters”. “

The rule has drawn support from agricultural and animal husbandry organizations such as the American Farm Bureau Federation, which claimed it would simplify complex judicial issues and clarify that “generally dry areas should no longer be considered federally regulated water.”

The Arizona court’s decision comes just months after the Biden administration’s EPA and the US Army Corps of Engineers signaled their intention to revise the Trump administration’s WOTUS definition, which it claimed had “disastrous implications for critical water bodies”. was producing.

Notably, in an associated June filing with the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts, the EPA sought remand but did not seek to vacate the NWPR, “in light of the agencies” stating their substantial concerns with the NWPR. Said with the intention of doing away with making a new rule.”

The District Court of South Carolina also remanded NWPR without vacating it, as requested by the EPA and Corps.

Conversely, environmentalist NRDC has sought courts’ remand and vacating the rule, arguing that “only a remand”[allow] An illegal rule to remain in place indefinitely. “

Notably, after the Trump administration initially issued the NWPR, the District Court of Colorado issued an administrative stay that was later overturned by the US Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.

The EPA and the Corps have responded swiftly to an Arizona court remand – an EPA webpage now states that the agencies are “interpreting United States water as a pre-2015 regulatory regime” Is.”

The district court’s decision coincided with the concern of Matthew Leopold, who, as general counsel for the EPA under Trump, assisted in creating the NWPR.

“I think it is quite unprecedented to vacate a duly promulgated federal regulation like the Navigable Water Conservation Rule, without reviewing the rule and how it relates to the authority under which it was promulgated, which is the Clean Water Act, Leopold told The Epoch Times.

“The judge’s order is too short,” he said.

Leopold considers case law from the Ninth Circuit Court, under which Arizona’s district court falls, and other circuits around the country will suggest that Judge Marquez should have taken additional steps before remanding.

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In a September 3 letter to EPA and military officials, the Democrats of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, led by Chairman Thomas Carper (D.-Del.), refrained from praising the decision, saying they “note” it. did. As plaintiffs in the Arizona case, EPA and military officials argued that Rule should be remanded without any vacancy.

“In light of your administration’s strong concerns about the adverse effects of the Trump regime, we urge you, nonetheless, to proceed to remove the NWPR administratively through formal notice and based on its fundamental policy failures.” Make comment rules,” the senators wrote. . “We also urge agencies to narrow down the removal of the NWPR to restore safeguards for waters that have been protected since the 1980s.”

Shelley Moore Capito (R.-W.Va.), a ranking member of the EPW committee, issued a statement on August 31 criticizing the decision and the EPA’s general approach to WOTUS.

“This opinion highlights the EPA’s lack of transparency to repeal and replace the NWPR,” Capito said. “For months, I have asked the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide any specific examples of any actual environmental damage that could be caused under the NWPR, yet none have been provided. citing the potential for serious environmental harm if persisted”, with no evidence from any agency to support the claim.

“Administrator Regan promised transparency with regard to repeal of NWPR. However, his failure to deliver on that promise with any scientific data or specific examples led us to make this court’s decision based on activists’ opinions. Did it,” Capito said.

“The EPA is clear that they believe that [NWPR] The rule is not as protective as they would like,” Leopold said. “The administration can change policy, and it is well established as a matter of law.”

“The question in Arizona, however, is about respecting that rule-making process, which is deliberate and well-considered, and not backing up on harsh decisions that void rules without due process, ” They said.

“I think there are valid arguments that this decision can be reversed on appeal,” he said. “I think it would be appropriate for litigants to file additional briefings requesting clarification of the judge’s order, and/or file appeals that raise the standards the Ninth Circuit expressed to grant remand with emptiness Is.”

Nathan Worcester is an environmental reporter at The Epoch Times.


This News Originally From – The Epoch Times

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