(Bloomberg) -- Ten states and a coalition of environmental groups sued the Trump administration for suspending a 2015 rule that was billed as a long-overdue update to the definition of lakes, rivers and wetlands designed to improve protection under the Clean Water Act of 1972.
The attorneys general from 10 states and the District of Columbia accused the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of violating federal law by delaying the Obama administration’s “Clean Water Rule” for another two years. The move was part of President Donald Trump’s promise to slash regulations.
"The Trump Administration’s suspension of the Clean Water Rule is clearly illegal, threatening New York’s decades-long efforts to ensure our residents have access to safe, healthy water," New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who is leading the coalition, said after filing suit Tuesday in Manhattan federal court.
The agencies allegedly acted without considering scientific evidence developed in support of the rule. The EPA, led by longtime agency critic Scott Pruitt, has often questioned scientific consensus on environmental matters, including the human causes of climate change.
Attorneys general from states including Mississippi, Texas and Louisiana had sued the Obama administration to stop the rule, saying it wrongly applied to lands far from traditionally “navigable waters.” The Supreme Court in January overturned rulings in those cases that barred the rule from taking effect. By then, however, the EPA had already pushed back the rule’s "applicability date" by two years under directives from Trump.
"These lawsuits are over an embattled regulation that’s been put on hold by the courts to prevent it from taking effect,” EPA spokeswoman Molly Block said. "Our delay rule will keep in place that status quo."
Schneiderman was joined by attorneys general, all Democrats, from California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.
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