On Tuesday, Attorney General William Tong joined a multistate coalition in filing a motion for summary judgment in their lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s unlawful final rule redefining “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act.
Under the new rule, more than half of all wetlands and at least 18 percent of all streams are left without federal protections. In today’s filing, the coalition argues that the rule is arbitrary and capricious, contrary to the text and primary objective of the Clean Water Act, and should be vacated.
“The whole point of the Clean Water Act is to clean up our nation’s waterways, and that requires a full and comprehensive application of the law,” Attorney General Tong said. “This revised rule, however, will have disastrous implications for public health and the environment and exposes critical water systems to pollution. The EPA ignored basic federal law and its own science-based studies in its rush to push through this damaging rule, and it should not be upheld by the court.”
The definition of “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act is critical to maintaining a strong federal foundation for water pollution control and water quality protection that preserves the integrity of our waters. While the Clean Water Act has resulted in dramatic improvements to water quality in the United States, its overriding objective has not yet been achieved. Many of the nation’s waters fail to meet water quality standards. The 2015 Clean Water Rule enacted during the Obama Administration provided much-needed clarity and consistency in federal Clean Water Act protections. It specifically included within the scope of protected waters, the headwaters of rivers and creeks as well as other non-traditionally navigable waters, such as wetlands and ephemeral streams, which have significant impact on downstream water quality.
On May 1, 2020, a California and New York-led coalition filed a lawsuit in the Northern District of California challenging the rule.
Attorney General Tong joins the attorneys general of California, New York, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia, as well as the California State Water Resources Control Board, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, and the City of New York in filing today’s motion.
A copy of the motion for summary judgment can be found here.
Assistant Attorneys General David Wrinn and Matthew Levine, Head of the Environment Department assisted the Attorney General with this matter.