Within hours of a major government attempt to take control of America’s natural waters using the “abuse of executive power” from the Obama administration, a federal judge said “no” to the White House.
Judge Ralph Erickson of the District Court for the District of North Dakota ruled on Thursday late afternoon that the 13 states suing to stop the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) takeover were right. Judge Erickson granted a preliminary injunction against the White House which is seen by many states as a major victory against government overreach, especially by the EPA.
“The risk of irreparable harm to the states is both imminent and likely,” Judge Erickson wrote. “The rule asserts jurisdiction over waters that are remote and intermittent waters. No evidence actually points to how these intermittent and remote wetlands have any nexus to a navigable-in-fact water.”
Just last month attorney generals and official from 30 states notified the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers, to at least postpone the proposed rule for no less than nine months. The States contend the rule would cost millions of dollars of bureaucracy nightmares for permitting, clarification, court battles, and enforcing. When the states were ignored by the federals government, they sued for a preliminary injunction. This collaboration of 13 states is only one of 10 other lawsuits against the attempt, known as the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. In all, 29 states, along with various industries, including farmers, energy businesses, and others are suing.
Responses of victory from many state and concerned officials included:
- “The judge’s decision to block the rule — which was challenged by 13 states — is encouraging, especially as EPA’s credibility has been questioned in the past month. The EPA needs to be stopped before it does more harm to our nation’s precious water resources.”— Julia Slingsby, spokeswoman for House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah)
- “I continue to have serious concerns about the line being crossed by the Obama administration’s habitual executive overreach and callous disregard for state’s sovereign authority with regards to WOTUS and many other issues.” –Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt
- “I am pleased with the court’s decision. It keeps the rule from taking effect tomorrow, August 28th. I requested that EPA withdraw this rule from the beginning. It was badly flawed then and remained badly flawed throughout the rulemaking process. The EPA failed to properly consult states or consider states’ concerns. The proposed rule unlawfully seeks to expand federal jurisdiction over water, undercuts state primacy and burdens landowners and water users in the West. It is unreasonable and cannot stand” –Wyoming Governor Matt Mead
- “North Dakota landowners and energy workers and their peers around the country will be temporarily spared the devastating consequences of an onerous rule. This is appropriate, given the judicial history of this issue and its impact on states and property rights. The injunction provides time for Congress to continue working toward a fix and for a complete judicial review of the legal merits of the rule.” –North Dakota congressman Kevin Cramer
- “The Obama Administration’s ongoing and extreme attempts to reach into the personal lives and personal property of American citizens knows no bounds and must be stopped….The Obama Administration’s overreaching attempt to extend federal control of water resources on personal property from coast to coast represents yet another Washington power grab, and we will continue to pursue our state’s own case against the EPA in order to shield Texans from the worst of these abuses.” –Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton
- “A federal court threw a giant wrench into the EPA and Army Corps’ plan to radically expand their power. The agencies ignored the impact of their actions on small business and ignored prior Supreme Court decisions.” –Dan Danner, head of the National Federation for Independent Businesses
In a move considered by many to be going against the Federal Judge’s intended ruling, the EPA immediately stated through their spokesperson, Melissa Harrison that “in all other respects, the rule is effective on August 28. The agencies are evaluating these orders and considering next steps in the litigation.”
She indicated the rule only applies to thirteen states that filed for it: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.
Texas has been particularly effective against similar Obama Administration tactics, especially with the White House and EPA overreach attempts. Governor Greg Abbott, then the State’s Attorney General, was especially victorious when in March 2012, he won a second victory in three months against the EPA when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit’s came back with a strong decision against the Department. It was a major blow to Obama, when the Court overturned the EPA’s improper disapproval of Texas’ Pollution Control Project (PCP) Standard Permit.
“Showing seemingly no regard for the federal laws that govern what it can and cannot do, the EPA unlawfully disapproved a commonsense Texas air permitting program that fully complied with the federal Clean Air Act and reduced harmful emissions,” said Abbott, who filed a challenge against the EPA on February 9, 2012.
When Texans learned in 2011 that the EPA began playing games with their own deadline that requires lower emissions with air pollution rules, experts discovered this would lead to the inevitable closing of Texas energy plants, lay off thousands of workers and create blackouts.
The Court criticized the EPA provided no legal basis under the federal Clean Air Act for its disapproval of Texas’ PCP Standard Permit. They found that EPA also ignored the federalist system established by the Clean Air Act and disregarding the State’s authority to implement air permitting programs. The Court pointed out that the EPA is only responsible for identifying pollutants and setting national standards. The states are empowered to create their own air quality programs that ensure compliance with federal standards
In July, 2011, the EPA gave Texas only five month notice that they are imposing new regulations that requires Texas coal power plants to reduce emissions by 45% by January 1, 2013.
“These expensive mandates do little to make our air safer or to control the global warming the EPA insists is threatening our country, while doing great damage to our energy independence and economic recovery,” Abbott stated.
“In the case, the EPA overstepped the bounds of its narrow statutory role in the SIP approval process,” the Court opinion stated.
Other attempts of Obama overstepping his executive powers were stopped when a federal court in Texas halted his November 2014 deportation amnesty order because it did not go through proper public notice and comment.
Emailgate, involving Obama’s former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, includes cases in federal courts, as well as the legalities of Obamacare, his “Affordable Health Care” mandate.