State of Texas, et al. v. US EPA. The revised regulatory definition of “Waters of the U.S.” continues to generate litigation in the federal courts. On May 28, 2019, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas held that the 2015 rulemaking proceedings used by EPA and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers to redefine this important component of the Clean Water Act were flawed in that the notice and comment provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) were violated because insufficient notice was provided by these agencies that “adjacent” waters newly subject to the regulatory jurisdiction of these agencies, can be determined on the basis of specific distances, which was a change in the agencies’ thinking, and insufficient notice of this change was provided to the public. In addition, the final rule “also violated the APA by preventing interested parties from commenting on the scientific studies that served as the technical basis” for the rule. However, the court did not vacate the new rule, but remanded the matter to the “appropriate administrative agencies” to give them an opportunity to fix this problem.
State of Oklahoma, ex rel. Mike Hunter, Attorney General of Oklahoma v. US EPA and the United States Army Corps of Engineers. A day later, on May 29, 2019, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma rejected arguments that the new redefinition should be preliminarily enjoined.While this case was filed in 2015, intervening litigation in the federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, caused a substantial delay in the disposition of this case. The court, noting that the tests for granting such an injunction against the federal government are fairly exacting, held that the plaintiffs, the State of Oklahoma and a number of industry groups and associations, failed to convince the court that the harm they would suffer if the rules remained effective would be irreparable. Presumably, this case will be going to trial in the near future.