The judge wrote that the EPA’s interpretation of the law was “illogical and unreasonable” and relied on “magical thinking.”
“It is further unreasonable to sow a lack of certainty into a system that was expressly intended to provide finality,” said the opinion.
According to McGroarty, more than $220 billion in U.S. investment goes through Section 404 Clean Water Act permits spanning many industries, including farming, manufacturing, building, energy, water treatment, and resource extraction projects.
“Just imagine the reaction of the rest of the industry, that they might be pulled into a process before they’ve put a project in place,” he said. “These projects commit capital in the hundreds of millions, in the billions, and they do it for years before the first shovel goes into the ground and they can begin to get a return.”
If the EPA can block a project before any permits or plans are put forward, it would send many mining projects and jobs overseas.
“If we don’t exploit and develop what we have in the United States, which is considerable,” he said, “we are simply going to underscore our foreign dependence.”
“It’s going to have a very negative effect on the manufacturing process in the U.S. I couldn’t even estimate,” he concluded. “$200 billion of investment, I couldn’t even estimate how many jobs that would be. Honestly, is this going to be something we just accept because an agency defines its role in role in a different way?”
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