HEAT Members Support DOJ Opposition of Nationwide Injunction Jeopardizing Utility Line Projects

May 8, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON - Today, House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and HEAT members Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.), Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) and Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) led a joint letter to the U.S. Department of Justice Attorney General William Barr in support of the Department’s opposition to nationwide injunctions and the Department’s effort to challenge the District Court for the District of Montana’s nationwide injunction of Nationwide Permit 12 (NWP 12) issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

“By vacating the permit granted by the Army Corps of Engineers for the Keystone XL pipeline and applying his ruling nationwide, one activist judge in Montana has effectively frozen infrastructure projects nationwide," Armstrong said in a statement. "If this ruling is allowed to stand, environmental activists will have succeeded in halting oil and gas, water, electric, and telecommunication projects all across the country. We support the Department of Justice in its opposition to this draconian ruling.”

The letter is being sent to the U.S. Department of Justice in response to the District Court for the District of Montana’s recent decision to vacate NWP 12 issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for certain activities under the Clean Water Act and the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899. The NWP 12 authorizes utility line construction, maintenance, or repair conducted in waters of the United States. If this order is applied nationally, it would endanger thousands of current and future projects, and the well-paying American jobs they provide, when they are needed most as we begin our economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The HEAT leaders support the Department’s opposition to nationwide injunctions and its efforts to challenge the court’s nationwide injunction of NWP 12. 

An excerpt of the letter is below, or read the full copy here:

"The issuance of a nationwide injunction by a district court is an unconstitutional assertion of judicial authority that exceeds principles of equitable relief. In these circumstances, a district court goes beyond the case and controversy at hand to enjoin the Executive Branch across the nation. Nationwide injunctions undermine equitable relief, unnecessarily affecting non-litigants by providing a remedy beyond what is necessary to redress the plaintiff’s injury.

"The national application of this order will jeopardize thousands of utility line projects across several economic sectors, creating unnecessary delays and hindering the ability of the Executive Branch to support responsible infrastructure development. Since NWP 12 entered into effect in 2017, the USACE has verified over 38,000 pre-construction notifications. The vast majority of these projects are unrelated to the Northern Plains case. A nationwide injunction would disrupt reliance on the NWP 12 and require an individual Clean Water Act Section 404 permit for each project site. This is a time-consuming process requiring a case-by-case review that would needlessly extend permitting approvals by over 200 days on average, according to the USACE. This unnecessary delay would be devastating as our economy reopens in response to the COVID- 19 pandemic. Clearly the nationwide application of this order is inappropriate as it would unnecessarily extend beyond the equitable relief sought by the Northern Plains plaintiffs."

The letter was signed by Republican Whip and HEAT Co-Chair Steve Scalise (R-La.), Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.), HEAT Co-Chairs Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) and Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), and Reps. Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S. (R-Ariz.), Kevin Brady (R-Texas),Troy Balderson (R-Ohio), Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.), David McKinley (R-W. Va.), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), David Rouzer (R-N.C.), Scott Perry (R-Pa.), Fred Keller (R-Pa.), Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.), Randy Weber (R-Texas), Greg Pence (R-Ind.), Jody Hice (R-Ga.), Bill Flores (R-Texas), Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pa.), Mike Johnson (R-La.), Clay Higgins (R-La.), Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), Bill Johnson (R-Ohio), Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), Pete Olson (R-Texas), Tom Cole (R-Okla.), Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), Bob Latta (R-Ohio), Jodey Arrington (R-Texas), Michael McCaul (R-Texas), Scott Tipton (R-Colo.), Garret Graves (R-La.), Carol D. Miller (R-W. Va.), Mike Conaway (R-Texas), Kevin Hern (R-Okla.), Russ Fulcher (R-Idaho), Roger Williams (R-Texas), William Timmons (R-S.C.), Pete Stauber (R-Minn.), Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), Ron Estes (R-Kan.), Austin Scott (R-Ga.), Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), Lance Gooden (R-Texas), Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-Texas), John Joyce (R-Pa.), Dan Meuser (R-Pa.), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Ken Buck (R-Colo.), Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), Jim Banks (R-Ind.), Dan Bishop (R-N.C.), Ross Spano (R-Fla.), Sam Graves (R-Mo.), Chris Stewart (R-Utah), Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.), and Jack Bergman (R-Mich.).

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