A federal judge in North Dakota said Friday that his injunction blocking a new Obama administration rule aimed at regulating some small waterways applies only to the 13 states that sued to block it, and not nationwide.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson clarified the temporary injunction he issued last week at the request of North Dakota and 12 other states. They sought to stop the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers from regulating some small streams, tributaries and wetlands under the Clean Water Act.
"Because there are competing sovereign interests and competing judicial rulings, the court declines to extend the preliminary injunction at issue beyond the entities actually before it," Erickson wrote.
The EPA had maintained after Erickson's initial ruling that the injunction applied in only those 13 states, and said it had begun enforcing it elsewhere. The states had argued that the judge made no geographical limitation in his ruling and it should apply everywhere.
"No harm, no foul for North Dakota and the 12 other states," said North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, who filed the original lawsuit on behalf of those states. "It's unfortunate for the other states because they will have to abide by the ruling."
The states involved in the lawsuit with North Dakota are Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, South Dakota and Wyoming.
The EPA did not immediately respond to an email message seeking comment.
Stenehjem said a total of 31 states have filed various lawsuits against the ruling. The states involved "cover 75 percent of the nation's landmass," he said.