GOP Spending Bill Provisions Aims To Bar Suits On WOTUS Rule

"House and Senate Republicans have inserted language into spending bills aimed at blocking legal challenges to the Trump administration’s effort to repeal a 2015 water protection rule that gave two federal agencies broad leeway in regulating activities that could affect streams and tributaries.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, who challenged the rule in federal court when he was Oklahoma’s attorney general, has made repeal of Waters of the United States (WOTUS) a top priority. He traveled to Kentucky on Thursday to meet with Gov. Matt Bevin (R) and members of the Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation, in part to discuss how to rewrite the rule. Both the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would carry out the regulation. ...

If enacted, the language in the bills funding the EPA’s operations for fiscal 2018 could make it harder for those groups to challenge the administration’s action in federal court. The identical provisions authorize the EPA and the Army Corps to pull back the rule “without regard to any provision of statute or regulation that establishes a requirement for such withdrawal.” Legislative experts say this could block challenges filed under the Administrative Procedures Act, which not only requires agencies to solicit comment but to lay out the basis for their regulatory actions in the public record and demonstrate that they have not favored a particular group or individual in making their decision."

Juliet Eilperin reports for the Washington Post November 30, 2017.

Source: Washington Post, 12/01/2017