Apr 6, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court reinstates Trump-era water regulation

The Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, March 28, 2022.
The Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on March 28. Photo: Eric Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Wednesday reinstated a Trump-era regulation that restricts the power of states and Native American tribes to block pipelines and other energy projects.

Driving the news: The court in a 5-4 decision agreed to halt a lower court judge’s order throwing out the rule.

  • Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court's three liberal members in dissenting.
  • The Trump-era rule will remain in effect while the Biden administration works on revising it. The rule isn't expected to be finalized until the spring of 2023, AP reports.
  • Justice Elena Kagan, writing for the dissenters, said the states and industry associations that had asked for the lower court’s ruling to be put on hold had not shown the extraordinary circumstances necessary to grant that request.
  • "By nonetheless granting relief, the Court goes astray," Kagan wrote in the dissent.
  • The brief order did not explain the majority's reasoning.

The big picture: The Biden administration had told justices it agreed that a lower court lacked authority to throw out the rule, but the administration urged the court not to reinstate it, according to a court filing.

  • "Requiring those practices to be adjusted yet again would cause substantial disruption and disserve the public interest," the administration said.
  • The Clean Water Act for decades had ruled that a federal agency could not issue a permit to conduct activity that could result in a discharge into navigable waters unless the state or tribe said that it complied with the Clean Water Act and local law or waived certification, per AP.
  • In 2020, the Trump administration scaled back that review power.

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