Judge nixes Trump-era rule limiting review of water projects

October 22, 2021 GMT

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A judge has vacated a Trump-era rule that limited states’ ability to review federally-permitted water projects.

When the federal government OKs a permit for a project that will discharge into navigable waters, state governments have the right to review the project to make sure it complies with state laws. States can approve, modify or deny the permit.

Former Republican President Donald Trump’s administration issued new rules that limited states’ ability to review these permits. Attorneys general in California, Washington and New York led a coalition of 21 states to sue to block this rule.

Now that Democrat Joe Biden is president, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wants to reconsider the rule. Thursday, a U.S. District Judge William Alsup ordered the rule sent back to the EPA for further proceedings. But he also vacated the rule, meaning it won’t stay in effect while the EPA makes changes.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta, a Democrat, praised the judge’s ruling. He said states rely on their reviewing power to “safeguard our precious resources by ensuring that federal projects meet the state’s robust water quality requirements.”