The state of Texas has blocked the Biden administration’s Clean Water Act rule in federal court, state Attorney General Ken Paxton announced Monday morning.
“Big win against Biden: Last night a federal court blocked the Administrator’s radical ‘Waters of the USA’ rule, which imposes a left-wing environmental agenda on Texas, crushing new regulations and oppressive economic costs. Always i will fight to keep biden’s boots off the collar of jeans!” Paxton tweeted.
Big win against Biden: Last night a federal court blocked the Administrator’s radical “Waters of the USA” rule, which imposes a left-wing environmental agenda on Texas, crushing new regulations and oppressive economic costs. I will always fight to keep Biden’s boots out of the collar of jeans! pic.twitter.com/zp2Wv17bhC
— Attorney General Ken Paxton (@KenPaxtonTX) March 20, 2023
Attorney General Paxton had filed a complaint in January against the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, against the Biden administration’s review of the “waters of the United States”.
“The Clean Water Act (“CWA”) requires federal permits to discharge pollutants into ‘navigable waters,'” the lawsuit states. “‘Navigable waters,’ in turn, are defined as ‘the waters of the United States, including territorial seas’. Waters that do not fit this definition are not under federal jurisdiction and may still be regulated by states and tribes.
“In this challenge, plaintiffs assert that by amending the definition of “waters of the United States,” as provided in the final rule, federal agencies unconstitutionally and impermissibly expand their own authority beyond congressional delegation to the CWA, intruding on state sovereignty. and the liberties of states and their citizens,” the lawsuit continues. “The final rule also lacks clarity, leaving those seeking to identify the scope of federal power over the land drought or minor water features at the mercy of an expensive, vague, and arbitrary analysis, lest they face a staggering criminal or civil penalty.”
Paxton’s legal complaint cites the Supreme Court’s decision in Rapanos v. United States, which rejected the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ “assertion of expanded authority over non-navigable intrastate waters that are not connected significantly with navigable interstate waters.”
On December 30, 2022, EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers announced the “Revised Definition of “Waters of the United States”” final rule. On January 18, 2023, the rule was published in the Federal Register; the rule was set to take effect on March 20, 2023.
The Federal Register cites the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in United States v. Riverside Bayview Homes that purportedly recognized that Congress delegated “broad federal action.”
regulatory authority” in the Clean Water Act and hoped that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Army would address the “difficulties inherent in defining precise boundaries on regulated waters.”
In December, the EPA and the US military made a joint announcement to justify the rule change.
“Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of the Army (the agencies) announced a final rule establishing a durable definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) to reduce the uncertainty of changing regulatory definitions, protect people’s health and support economic opportunity,” the joint announcement said. “The final rule restores essential water protections that existed before 2015 under the Clean Water Act for traditional navigable waters, territorial seas, interstate waters, as well as upstream water resources that affect significantly those waters. As a result, this action will strengthen critical protections for waters that are sources of drinking water while supporting agriculture, local economies and downstream communities.”
“When Congress passed the Clean Water Act 50 years ago, it recognized that protecting our waters is essential to ensuring healthy communities and a thriving economy,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “Following broad stakeholder engagement and building on what we’ve learned from previous rulemakings, EPA is working to provide a durable definition of WOTUS that safeguards our nation’s waters, strengthens economic opportunity, and protect people’s health while offering greater certainty to farmers and ranchers, and landowners.”
“This final rule recognizes the essential role of the nation’s water resources in communities across the country,” said Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Michael L. Connor. “The rule’s clear and consistent definition of waters of the United States will allow for more efficient and effective implementation and provide the clarity long desired by farmers, industry, environmental organizations and other stakeholders.”
Attorney General Paxton, in a press release in February urging the court to issue a preliminary injunction, argued that the Clean Water Act was being exploited to exert “federal control over states like Texas.”
“The environmental extremists who wrote this illegal rule have no interest in respecting our sovereignty or our natural resources,” Attorney General Paxton said. “For this administration, this is not about environmental protection, it’s about federal control over states like Texas, and we will not allow it. This rule is unlikely to survive our efforts to stop it permanently, and it is important that the court prevents the definition change from taking effect until our case is decided.”
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