North Dakota Injunction a Threat to Clean Water Nationwide

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The decision by a federal judge in North Dakota to freeze implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s clean water restoration rule in 24 states delays critical protections for drinking water, flood mitigation, and wildlife habitat for half the country. It also sets a dangerous precedent that threatens the urgent restoration of federal clean water protections nationwide.

“Recent rollbacks of clean water protections left communities, businesses, and ecosystems in danger,” said Jim Murphy, director of legal advocacy for the National Wildlife Federation. “The EPA’s new rule is a common sense, science-based return to longstanding protections that will begin to restore fragile and degraded streams and wetlands across the nation. The court’s injunction of implementation of this rule introduces an unnecessary, dangerous delay to this urgent restoration process in dozens of states. It is critical that the rule is allowed to go into effect across the rest of the nation.”

The EPA’s rule reinstates protection levels consistent with Clean Water Act requirements that have largely been in place for the last 15 years. A Supreme Court decision in a case (Sackett v. EPA) that addresses what waters are protected under the act is expected before the end of the court’s current term.

For more on the Clean Water Act and the uncertainties facing waters across the nation see the National Wildlife Federation’s recent report, Five Decades of Clean Water.


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