A federal district court in Georgia has issued a preliminary injunction, staying the Obama Clean Streams Law, which sought to clarify the federal government’s jurisdiction of Waters of the U.S. under the Clean Water Act. A number of States, including Georgia, West Virginia, Alabama, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, South Carolina, Utah, and Wisconsin filed suit in June 2015, arguing that EPA and the Corps’s final WOTUS rule violated the CWA, the Administrative Procedures Act as well as the Commerce Clause and 10th Amendment of the Constitution.
An interim dispute ensued over which court had jurisdiction over the case (federal district v. courts of appeal), until January 22, 2018, when the Supreme Court held that orginal jurisidiction lies with the district court. To complicate matters, the Trump EPA’s Applicability Rule, which provides an effective date of Feb. 6, 2020 (to give the EPA time to rewrite the rule), is being challenged by other States and environmentalists, who argue EPA’s delay is unlawful.
The court in the present case agreed with the plaintiffs, finding irreparable harm, holding the States demonstrated a likelihood of success on their claims that the WOTUS Rule was promulgated in violation of the CWA and the APA.
While this represents a temporary victory and reprieve for the plaintiffs, the litigation will continue with no clarity in sight.