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Eye On Boise

North Dakota judge’s ruling means new fed water rule blocked in 13 states today, including Idaho

A federal judge in North Dakota on Thursday blocked a new Obama administration rule that would give the federal government jurisdiction over some smaller waterways just hours before it was set to go into effect, the AP reports. U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson in Fargo issued a temporary injunction requested by North Dakota and 12 other states – including Idaho – halting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers from regulating some small streams, tributaries and wetlands under the Clean Water Act. The rule, which has prompted fierce criticism from farmers among others, was scheduled to take effect today.

North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, who filed the injunction request, said his reading of the ruling was that it applied to all 50 states, not just the 13 that sued. But the EPA said in a statement that it applied only to the 13 and it would be enforced beginning today in all other states. The 13 states exempted for now are Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

Idaho 1st District Congressman Raul Labrador welcomed the judge’s ruling, saying in a statement, ““The Obama Administration seems determined to usurp state authority. The administration ignored states’ opposition and didn’t take the hint to revise the rule after a bill opposing the regulation passed the House with bipartisan support in May. My hope is that the courts will permanently strike down this executive branch overreach, which Judge Erickson called ‘exceptionally expansive.’ Meanwhile, I will continue to work with my colleagues on a legislative remedy that protects the rights of the states and ordinary Americans trying to make a living.”

The administration’s rule rewrites the four-decade-old definition of “navigable waters” under the federal Clean Water Act. You can read an explainer and full article here from the AP.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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