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Nine US states and Canada province sue EPA over water transfer regulation

[JURIST] Nine US states and the Canadian province of Manitoba sued the US Environmental Protection Agency [official website] Thursday, alleging that an agency regulation [PDF text] allows the discharge of polluted water in violation of the Clean Water Act [text; EPA materials]. In a complaint filed [NY AG press release] in US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website], the state attorneys general assert that the Water Transfer Rule promulgated in June exempts transfers from one body of water to another without an intervening use from permitting requirements under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) [EPA backgrounder]. Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson said [press release] the regulation "jeopardize[s] both our economy and our fishing, boating, and outdoors way of life by allowing polluted water to be diverted into Minnesota lakes and rivers." The attorneys generals' complaint claims that the regulation exceeds the EPA's statutory authority and is arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of discretion. Bloomberg News has more.

Last month, the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled [JURIST report] on a suit brought by several environmental groups seeking to compel the EPA to implement antidegradation requirements for Kentucky under the Clean Water Act. The court affirmed summary judgment [opinion, PDF] in favor of the EPA on some issues, reversed it on others and remanded the matter to the EPA.

The EPA has been sued in recent months by a number of states seeking either the promulgation of regulations or effective response to petitions. In August, 12 states filed suit [press release; JURIST report] against the EPA for its alleged failure to enforce provisions of the Clean Air Act [text; EPA materials] requiring oil refineries to adopt measures curbing the pollution contributing to global warming. In July, California Attorney General Jerry Brown [official website] formally notified [letter, PDF; press release] the EPA that the state had petitioned the EPA three times seeking a regulatory ruling and would file a lawsuit [JURIST report] against the agency if it refused to issue rules regulating greenhouse gas emissions from various vehicles and types of machinery.

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