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South Carolina Coastal Conservation League v. Pruitt

ELR Citation: 48 ELR 20147
Nos. 2-18-cv-330-DCN, (D.S.C., 08/16/2018) (Norton)

A district court ruled in favor of environmental groups' challenge EPA's rule suspending the 2015 Waters of the United States Rule (WOTUS Rule), and enjoined the suspension rule nationwide. The groups argued that the suspension rule violated the APA by refusing to solicit public comments on the merits of suspending the WOTUS Rule and replacing it with a 1980s regulation. The court agreed, concluding that the Agency's refusal to solicit or consider any substantive comments on the change of the regulatory definition to "waters of the United States" did not provide a meaningful opportunity for comment and thus violated the APA. Because the legal effect of the suspension rule is to change the definition of "waters of the United States," the Agency cannot lawfully suspend the prior rule without engaging with the substantive impacts of that change. The court therefore granted the groups' motion for summary judgment and enjoined the suspension rule.