Farmers thought they had seen the last of the beleaguered Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule in January when the Trump administration moved to formally rescind the regulation and start over with a new version. That broadening of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act, however, became the law of the land in 26 states as the U.S. District Court for South Carolina ruled EPA did not meet requirements for public notice nor a sufficient comment period before rescinding WOTUS.
The ruling leaves a patchwork of regulation across the U.S. as courts have issued stays blocking the rule in 24 states, as of press time. Consequently, the South Carolina ruling only impacts states without a legal stay blocking WOTUS.
“To avoid widespread uncertainty and potential enforcement against ordinary farming activities in these already-uncertain times, we call on the administration to take immediate steps to limit the impact of this dangerous court decision,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall in a statement. “The delay rule would have maintained regulatory certainty and stability while the administration completes its reconsideration of the 2015 rule and works to develop a new regulation to provide both clean water and clear rules.”
EPA has not yet indicated whether the agency will appeal the ruling.