FARGO, N.D., Aug. 27 (UPI) -- Hours before it was set to go into effect, a federal judge blocked a new rule from the Obama administration that would expand the Clean Water Act and give greater federal oversight to bodies of water throughout the country.
U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson in North Dakota issued the injunction based on a lawsuit brought against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by 13 states.
The "Waters of the United States" rule, or Clean Water Rule, was first proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2014, and was introduced by President Barack Obama in May. For Obama, the regulation could be seen as a hallmark of his wider efforts to create an environmental legacy before he leaves office.
For some state officials and businesses, though, it's too much federal oversight.
"Once the rule takes effect, the states will lose their sovereignty over intrastate waters that will then be subject to the scope of the Clean Water Act," Erickson wrote in his ruling Thursday.
"While the exact amount of land that would be subject to the increase is hotly disputed, the agencies admit to an increase in control over those traditional state-regulated waters of between 2.84 to 4.65 percent. Immediately upon the rule taking effect, the rule will irreparably diminish the states' power over their waters."
The EPA said that by clearly defining which water ways are protected -- only those that impact the health of larger bodies of water downstream -- the new rule in the Clean Water Act would reduce the amount of resources spent on case-specific analysis of water.
"For the water in the rivers and lakes in our communities that flow to our drinking water to be clean, the streams and wetlands that feed them need to be clean too,"said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. "Protecting our water sources is a critical component of adapting to climate change impacts like drought, sea level rise, stronger storms, and warmer temperatures -- which is why EPA and the Army have finalized the Clean Water Rule to protect these important waters, so we can strengthen our economy and provide certainty to American businesses."