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NY responds to EPA water rule delay by pledging lawsuit

By Allen Cone
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Thursday he will lead a multi-state lawsuit after the EPA suspended Clean Water Rule for two years. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Thursday he will lead a multi-state lawsuit after the EPA suspended Clean Water Rule for two years. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 1 (UPI) -- New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced Thursday he will lead a multi-state lawsuit over the Environmental Protection Agency's delaying the Clean Water Rule for two years.

The Obama-era rule clarifies waters, including streams and wetlands that are protected under the Clean Water Act.

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On Wednesday, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said the agency filed legal documents to suspend the "Waters of the United States" rule. The law, which was to take effect in 2015, was halted due to a stay by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court overturned the ruling last month and President Donald Trump signed an order to repeal the rule last year.

"The Trump Administration's suspension of the Clean Water Rule threatens to eliminate protections for millions of miles of streams and acres of wetlands across the country," Schneiderman said in a statement. "Abandoning the Clean Water Rule will mean pollution, flooding, and harm to fish and wildlife in New York and across the country."

He did not specify the states that would join him.

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"The Trump administration's suspension of these vital protections is reckless and illegal," Schneiderman said.

The Natural Resources Defense Council also plans to sue.

"EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is racing the clock to deny protections for our public health and safety. It's grossly irresponsible, and illegal -- and we'll challenge it in court," Jon Devine, a senior attorney with NRDC, said Thursday.

The Council and the Sierra Club are protesting a reported 72 percent reduction in clean energy and energy efficient programs.

"Trump needs to take his head out of the sand, stop trying to prop up his billionaire coal backers, and wake up to recognize the clean energy revolution spreading across the country," the Sierra Club said in a statement.

The EPA did not immediately comment on the legal action.

When he was Oklahoma's attorney general, Pruitt sued the EPA over the Clean Water Rule.

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