The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has decided to enforce guidance on wastewater treatment as if it were a binding rule without going through the proper rulemaking process for all areas of the country except for the 8th Circuit, where it lost a court case. Earlier, the EPA confirmed it was enforcing the new requirement in correspondence with Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit invalidated the EPA's action, deciding that EPA changed its policy without notice and comment, as required by law. Now, the EPA says it will implement that decision only in the 8th Circuit. The agency will continue to enforce guidance on wastewater treatment as if it were a formal rule, in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act, in the rest of the country.
Sen. Grassley and Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, have been critical of the EPA's action. They made the following comments on the latest decision from the EPA.
Grassley comment: "The EPA tried to violate basic rule-making procedures and got caught. Now, the agency is enforcing the violation everywhere except for the court circuit where it lost its case. This isn't the way to conduct agency business. The rules are in place for good reason. They're meant to keep the public involved and informed of major decision-making and hold agencies accountability for their decisions. The EPA should have followed the letter of the law."
Vitter comment: "The EPA is trying to sneak in a burdensome, new water treatment regulation despite the Courts ruling against them. They need to unambiguously and fairly apply the invalidation of this illegal water treatment regulation on a national level."