President's weekly report — August 28, 2015

August 28, 2015 | By ROB RIVETT

WOTUS halted!

A federal district court judge in North Dakota enjoined with this order EPA from enforcing it’s new breathtakingly illegal Waters of the United States rule.  The court found that the harm to the states who had sued was potentially considerable and that there was a likelihood of success in the merits.  This result should have a positive impact on our separate lawsuit as well as on every other landowner across the United States (though you should read our blog here on EPA’s attempt to ignore the court’s order.)

New wetlands lawsuit

We filed this complaint in Andy Johnson v. EPA this week.  EPA is demanding that Johnson remove his lawful, state-permitted, and environmentally beneficial stock pond — and until he does he must pay fines of $37,500 per day (since 2014 so the figure now approaches $20 million).  That’s quite a bit more than Johnson, a part-time rancher and full-time welder is able to pay.  EPA simply refuses to recognize the existence of a stock-pond exemption to the requirement that landowners get a Clean Water Act permit before touching waters of the United States.  But the exemption is clearly part of the law; EPA just won’t recognize it.  For more on our new lawsuit, see our blog here. We’re working on this case with the able assistance of Wyoming attorneys Karen Budd-Falen and Dan Frank.

Environmental review abuse

We filed this amicus brief in Cleveland National Forest Foundation v. SANDAG. The case concerns San Diego’s new-age plan to stuff all new development in to small “transit-friendly” locales.  Enviros and the state challenged it for not being aggressive enough in reducing emissions, although it forthrightly disclosed what emissions will be under the plan. Their sole argument was that the environmental analysis failed to adequately address the plan’s “consistency” with a vague, nonbinding executive order and the state’s “long-term climate stabilization objectives.” The brief argues that mere policy objections to a project, even if they involve environmental policy, are not a valid basis for a CEQA claim.