AGs, industry groups sue feds over new water rule

(The Center Square) – A group of attorneys general and industry organizations are suing the federal government over a new water protection rule that went into effect last month.

The lawsuit asks the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana to vacate the 2023 rule, which went into effect on Nov. 27, and block the EPA from enforcing it, leaving a Trump-era rule in place.

The EPA says the final rule under the Clean Water Act “enhances certification review and provides regulatory certainty to advance federally permitted projects” by creating a 6-month default timeframe for certification agreements with a one-year maximum for review.

“The rule emphasizes that states, territories, and Tribes may only consider the adverse water quality-impacts from the activity,” the EPA said in September. “To limit delays, the rule also provides a clear approach to defining the required contents in a request for certification.”

The plaintiffs argue the changes are “sweeping and unlawful.”

“The 2023 Water Quality Certification Rule is arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of the EPA’s discretion, exceeds the statutory authority on which it relies, and is otherwise contrary to law,” the complaint says.

The American Petroleum Institute, Interstate National Gas Association of America and National Hydropower Association are listed as plaintiffs, along with attorneys general from Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming.

“The Trump administration’s reforms preserved the role of states in protecting their water quality while stopping states acting in bad faith and abusing the process to achieve unrelated policy goals and stopping or delaying nationally important projects and critical infrastructure,” Montana Attorney General Knudsen said in a statement. “In its new rule, Biden’s EPA has once again turned the Clean Water Act on its head, ignoring congressional intent and exceeding its authority.”

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