EPA says new clean water rules are in effect even though judge suspended them

The very same crew which recently dumped three million gallons of toxic sludge out of an abandoned mine and turned the Animas River in Colorado the color of a yellow banded poison dart frog for roughly a week has just issued a whole new set of rules to “protect” small pools of water. They would also like you to know that these rules are going into effect even though a federal judge put them on hold in 13 states, too. This new batch of regulations is going to “protect” bodies of water which may include the ditch in front of your driveway or that persistent soggy patch in your back yard. (Fox News)

The Environmental Protection Agency says it is going forward with a new federal rule to protect small streams, tributaries and wetlands, despite a court ruling that blocked the measure in 13 central and Western states.

The EPA says the rule, which took effect Friday in more than three dozen states, will safeguard drinking water for millions of Americans.

Opponents pledged to continue to fight the rule, emboldened by a federal court decision Thursday that blocked it from Alaska to Arkansas.

These rules were not suddenly rushed out in response to the agency’s own recent hijinks in an effort to make sure nobody else pulls such a boneheaded maneuver. They’ve been in the works for quite a while and a coalition of people ranging from farmers to landowners to states’ rights advocates have been howling about them. Though they are supposedly in place to prevent pollution in smaller tributary streams which feed into larger waterways, the rules are so broadly written that they could apply to virtually anyplace where water pools on the surface of the earth, leading to a permitting nightmare for the landowner if they want to do so much as landscape the area for drainage. The rules have been viewed as being so odius that the Farm Bureau started a massive push to trim them back down in scope. And finally a federal judge hearing the case for plaintiffs in 13 states agreed to put them on hold. (Greeley Tribune)

The federal ruling Thursday was in North Dakota, where officials from that state and 12 others argued the new guidelines are overly broad and infringe on their sovereignty. U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson in Fargo agreed that they might have a case, issuing a temporary injunction.

The EPA said after the ruling that it would not implement the new rules in those 13 states — Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

Several other lawsuits remain, from other states and also from farm and business groups.

You might think that having a judge shut the process down in more than one quarter of the country might give the agency pause. But apparently not… it’s full steam ahead in all of the states where they weren’t expressly forbidden to move forward. But how does that work in legal terms? Aren’t they a federal agency which is supposed to be making rules for the entire nation? If their regulations are shut down in part of the country, how can they be enforced in the rest?

Don’t worry yourselves. I’m sure the Justice Department will weigh in on this any minute now and reassure us that the EPA can do whatever it wants. Now if you’ll excuse them, they have a few more miles of river to dredge up and a bunch of mercury to hide back in a mine shaft.

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David Strom 8:41 PM on January 30, 2023