UPDATE: Friday the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a statement to announce that the agency would continue to apply the new Waters of the United States rules in all parts of the country except those in the Sixth Circuit, where they were blocked Thursday, as reported below.
RALEIGH – The Obama administration’s controversial plan known as the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) was blocked by a federal judge in North Dakota just one day before it was to take effect.
U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson issued a preliminary injunction against implementation of the new rules. The judge ruled that the Obama administration likely violated its Congressional grant of authority in issuing the rule and likely failed to comply with requirements when promulgating the rule.
This ruling came on the heels of another federal court in Georgia denying a petition for injunction by several other states and North Carolina’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The ruling also coincided with DENR’s request to Attorney General Roy Cooper to join with those other states in opposition to the rules.
Responding to the North Dakota injunction, DENR Secretary Donald van der Vaart said, “We are disappointed that the judge in our case declined to take jurisdiction and stop the redefined WOTUS rule from going into effect in North Carolina, but we are encouraged by the North Dakota judge’s decision to put WOTUS on hold in that case. DENR will continue to pursue legal options that would protect North Carolina’s farmers and property owners from a costly and burdensome act of federal overreach. North Carolina’s waters should remain in the hands of North Carolina, not Washington, D.C.”