Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit granted a stay to pause EPA’s implementation of its interpretive memorandum, which requires cybersecurity reviews as part of public water system sanitary surveys. The stay was granted in response to a motion filed by the American Water Works Association and the National Rural Water Association, after the states of Missouri, Arkansas, and Iowa challenged the memorandum in April.
In March, EPA released its plan to incorporate cybersecurity reviews into sanitary surveys, but the move drew strong opposition from AMWA and other water sector organizations that warned the approach would not improve cybersecurity and could put sensitive information at risk. However, EPA moved ahead with the plan that, as an interpretive memorandum, was not subject to a formal notice and comment period. Last month, AMWA did submit comments in response to EPA’s guidance document on implementation of the policy.
The Eighth Circuit did not issue an opinion explaining its reasoning behind the decision to grant the stay, but it could indicate that the judges believe the states’ challenge to the memorandum has some likelihood of success. EPA has not yet formally responded to the stay decision, leaving it unclear how the agency will direct states to modify their approach to sanitary surveys while the legal case unfolds.