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Federal judge blocks expanded EPA water regulations for Oklahoma and other states

Lake Carl Blackwell has dark water. Its rocky shore is visible in the foreground and a shoreline with trees is on the left of the shot. The sky is bright blue with wispy clouds.
Graycen Wheeler
/
KOSU

A federal court in North Dakota has blocked the implementation of a rule that would broaden the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulatory authority.

The Biden administration’s Waters of the United States rule defines which bodies of water are federally regulated under the Clean Water Act. After a decade of flip flopping policies, the new rule says the EPA can regulate not just navigable federal waters but everything upstream of them.

But Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond and other state officials say the new definition is confusing and places unreasonable burdens on farmers and ranchers, whose farm ponds and pastures might be saddled with regulations meant for drinking water sources.

At the end of February, Oklahoma and 23 other states sued the EPA, saying the new rule violates their Tenth Amendment rights.

On Wednesday, a federal judge granted those states a preliminary injunction to maintain the status quo while courts figure out a permanent solution.

That means the EPA won’t be able to implement the new definition in Oklahoma and the other states who challenged the rule, which went into effect on March 20th.

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Graycen Wheeler is a reporter covering water issues at KOSU as a corps member with Report for America.
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