Scott Pruitt vs. the legal maze to clean power and water

The Environmental Protection Agency is trying to rework the Obama administration’s two most controversial regulations, one on climate change and another on waterways, but agency chief Scott Pruitt still needs to work out legal questions over the rules.

Pruitt, in an exclusive interview with the Washington Examiner, detailed some of his thinking about the Clean Power Plan, former President Barack Obama’s signature climate change regulation for existing power plants, and the Waters of the United States rule, meant to expand EPA’s jurisdiction on everything from rivers to irrigation ditches.

Both rules have been to the courts and back again.

Trump’s EPA asked the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to hold off on issuing its decision on the legality of the climate plan while it reviewed and re-proposed the plan. The court agreed. More than two dozen states and hundreds of industry groups challenged the Clean Power Plan, arguing in court last year that the EPA overstepped its legal authority.

Meanwhile, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals stayed the Waters of the United States rule last year, suggesting the agency overstepped its legal authority. The court also said in an earlier ruling that states suing EPA likely would succeed on the jurisidictional issues.

Pruitt sounded the most confident when he talked about his WOTUS repeal effort. “What was wrong with the WOTUS rule of 2015 was it was what? An overreach. That’s not editorial comment. That’s what the 6th Circuit said,” Pruitt said.

The court halted the definition of “waters of the U.S.” based on EPA’s broad interpretation of its authority. The Supreme Court is supposed to make a decision on whether the 6th Circuit has jurisdiction over the regulation, instead of a lower court, which could come during the high court’s October term. The 6th Circuit believes it has jurisdiction.

Read more of this Washington Examiner article by John Siciliano by clicking here.

Photo: Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty