Prosecutors general in 20 states and the District of Columbia took legal action against the Trump administration on Tuesday, declaring that new federal guidelines will weaken their ability to protect rivers, lakes, and streams within their borders.
They state that new, recent guidelines recently published by the Environmental Protection Agency change practice that has existed for more than 30 years and empower federal governments to inspect, obstruct, or impose nationwide approved water jobs.
President Donald Trump released an implementing regulation in April 2019 that ordered the criticized change that could potentially make it more difficult for states to obstruct pipelines and other jobs due to issues that could affect water quality.
"The Trump administration wants to clear the fossil fuel infrastructure deck," Californian Attorney General Xavier Becerra said when he unveiled the legal steps, the latest batches he actually submitted to the administration.
Becerra included: "By reducing the scope and time (for verification), it makes it very difficult for states to fully protect the rights they have within their borders to protect water."
He explained that the changes in water policy will limit states' assessment of gas and oil pipelines, hydroelectric power plants, property and industrial development, and sewage treatment plants.
The EPA reduced the direct discussion of pending laws, but said in a statement that it was operating since its guidelines on water quality accreditation were nearly 50 years old.
The change "reflects the first comprehensive analysis of the text, structure and legislative history" of this part of the Clean Water Act, the company said.
"As a result, the agency's final regulation will increase the transparency and efficiency of the … certification process to encourage timely review of infrastructure projects while ensuring that Americans have clean water to drink and relax," said the EPA.
The state of California, New York, and Washington state that the policy changes violate the federal law on clean water and years of legal decisions and precedents. It was filed in a federal court in San Francisco, stating that the EPA has failed to provide reasonable treatment in changing the guidelines.
The Attorney General of Virginia, Mark Herring, said in a statement that the new last rule "illegally limits the ability of states like Virginia to even review projects that could cause harm or even protect important conditions".
The rule applies to all jobs that require federal approval and can lead to contamination of the waterways. The states had to accredit that the jobs corresponded to the state laws and the water quality requirements.
Doug Obegi, senior lawyer on the Defense Council for Natural Resources, said the rule "guts" the ability of states to affect many jobs each year.
He explained that states may still have the ability to ban jobs through river contamination, but the changes may no longer require the minimum current flows listed under federal dams and tanks "so we actually have a river." .
The changes are among the many measures the Trump administration has actually taken to withdraw the Clean Water Act. It is to end federal defense for many of the country's myriad miles of streams, wetlands, arroyos, and wetlands in January. This change narrowed the types of waterways that receive federal defense.
The other states participating on Tuesday are Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.