Court Pauses EPA's Cybersecurity Rule Following Legal Challenge

Court Pauses EPA's Cybersecurity Rule Following Legal Challenge

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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has granted a request from the American Water Works Association and the National Rural Water Association to stop the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Cybersecurity Rule from going into effect until the current case challenging the rule has been decided.

AWWA and NRWA requested that the court pause the rule during a legal challenge from three states so that their members would not have to undertake costly changes to their operations until the court decides if the rule is legally valid. The stay applies until further notice from the court.

“AWWA is pleased the court recognized the importance of halting the Cybersecurity Rule for our utility members as it reviews the legality of the rulemaking process,” says AWWA CEO David LaFrance. “AWWA strongly supports efforts to strengthen cybersecurity in the water sector, but the Sanitary Survey Program is not the right tool for the job. We are grateful our viewpoint will be heard by the court and look forward to working together with EPA and others on a smart path forward.”

NRWA CEO Matthew Holmes says his association commends the court for issuing the stay. “While NRWA fully supports efforts to strengthen cybersecurity in small communities across the country, enforcing this regulation is not the best way to help small and rural systems, and could have costly and unnecessary consequences.”

AWWA and NRWA joined the states of Missouri, Arkansas and Iowa in a legal challenge to the Cybersecurity Rule because of concerns about the legal process and legality of the rule, concerns that the rule may create additional cybersecurity vulnerabilities for members, as well as concerns that states do not have appropriate resources, laws, rules or procedures in place to adhere to the rule requirements. Specifically, in the absence of a viable primacy agency implementation framework, water systems were at risk of violations for which they are unable to prepare. There is also the risk that the cybersecurity vulnerabilities of these systems would be publicly available because they are being done through sanitary surveys, which could be accessed by malicious actors.

The public wasn’t given the opportunity to comment about EPA’s proposed approach before the rule was issued, according to an AWWA press release, and by granting a stay, the court has prevented these risks to members while it reviews the legality of EPA’s rulemaking process.


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