Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit to block the U.S. EPA’s attempt to repeal a 2015 rule defining what waters qualify for federal Clean Water Act (CWA) protections.
If the EPA did repeal this rule, the number of water bodies around the U.S. that are protected under the CWA would reduce significantly. This rule especially impacts states such as Washington, which have waterways impacted by upstream sources in neighboring states.
“The Trump Administration continues to assault sound, scientifically supported environmental policy,” said Ferguson. “Clean water is essential to our environment and our economy in the Pacific Northwest. From salmon to orcas, fishermen to farmers, clean water is the basis for a healthy Washington. We plan to stop this administration’s unlawful attempt to upend years of extensive scientific study and public input simply because it doesn’t like the result.”
The suit alleges the EPA violated the Administrative Procedure Act and the CWA with its new rule by failing to provide a sound explanation for its decision and not giving the public an opportunity to offer input.
After the adoption of the 2015 rule, then-Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt challenged the rule in federal court, according to the Bainbridge Island Review. Ferguson and several other states’ attorney generals intervened in the suit to defend the rule.
Though Pruitt has since left the administration, the EPA’s efforts to repeal the rule are still in motion.
In October, the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers published a rule repealing the 2015 Clean Water Rule. They replaced it with the rule promoted by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1986 and it became effective on Dec. 23, 2019.
Ferguson is asking the court to vacate the repeal and replacement rule, according to the Bainbridge Island Review.