The U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina found that the Trump administration improperly suspended the Clean Water Rule (Read the Order).
Specifically, the Court held that (1) the EPA and Corps violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) by refusing to solicit public comment on the merits of suspending the Clean Water Rule and (2) the EPA and the Corps violated the APA in refusing to consider the substantive implications of suspending the Clean Water Rule.
The District Court has issued a nationwide injunction, effectively rendering the Suspension Rule void. (See footnote 4 for the Court's reasoning for the nationwide injunction.)
What does this mean for the Clean Water Rule?
The short answer is that it appears that the Clean Water Rule will apply in up to 26 States. This decision is likely to be appealed by the government and industry groups (both on the merits and regarding the scope of the injunction).
With respect to the remainder of the States, the rules in place prior to the Clean Water Rule still apply. The decision in South Carolina only dealt with the process surrounding the Suspension Rule. In other litigation, various District Courts (including the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota) have enjoined the Clean Water Rule based on a substantive challenge. These cases continue.
What does this mean for the SDNY and ND litigation in which SWS is amicus?
The case in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York is a procedural challenge to the Suspension Rule, on the same grounds as in the South Carolina case. The States challenging the Suspension Rule have already notified the Court about the South Carolina decision.
The case in the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota is a substantive challenge to the Clean Water Rule. Now that the Suspension Rule is enjoined, it makes it more likely that the Court will proceed to make a decision on the merits.