Gordon Approves of SCOTUS Decision Keeping Trump’s Water Rule in Place
Governor Mark Gordon has issued a statement in favor of a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that reinstates changes to the Clean Water Act put in place by former President Donald Trump.
In a press release, Gordon said:
"It is clear that the Congressional purpose of the Clean Water Act is to protect and maintain water quality," Gordon said. "Wyoming has been adversely impacted by other states’ misapplication of Section 401 of the Clean Water Act in their attempts to block new pipelines and coal export terminals. I have long advocated for a modernized approach that ties the scope of Section 401 review back to water quality-related impacts. The Trump rule did just that. As one of the states who sought and obtained this stay from the U.S. Supreme Court, we look forward to a favorable outcome from the appeal."
While Gordon did not cite specific examples of what impact the ruling would have, one instance was the attempt to build a coal terminal in Washington, which would have been exported to Wyoming and Montana, that was denied using section 401.
Jeff Zenk, a communications director for the Washington Department of Ecology, said the changes made to section 401 would have made it harder for them to deny the permit for the coal terminal.
The circumstances surrounding the case began when Trump signed an executive order in April 2019 that started the process to change parts of section 401 of the Clean Water Act.
The final changes went into effect on Sept. 11, 2020, and were immediately challenged in court by several states and environmental groups.
That court challenge saw success on Oct. 21, 2021, when a lower court agreed to vacate the Trump Administration's changes to the specific section of the Clean Water Act.
After the lower court ruled to vacate the Trump Administration's rule, several states, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, West Virginia, Texas, and Wyoming, appealed the case to the SCOTUS, who ruled in their favor.
Section 401 of the Clean Water Act has a provision allowing states and tribal governments to halt the construction of federal projects, such as pipelines and dams, that don't meet certain water quality standards.
With the new rule, states and tribal governments are limited in what types of water quality they are able to consider when attempting to halt federal projects.
In response to the rule change, after President Joe Biden came into office, the Environmental Protection Agency signaled that they will be initiating the process to change the rule back to what it was before Trump changed it, a process that will likely be completed by 2023.
The ruling by the SCOTUS does not impact what the EPA is doing to change section 401.