WOTUS is Back for 26 States

August 16, 2018 04:43 PM
A district court ruling has put the Waters of the U.S. rule back into effect in 26 states.

U.S. farmers thought they had seen the last of the beleaguered Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule in January when the Trump administration moved formally to 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 that the administration did not follow the proper rulemaking process in rescinding WOTUS. The court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did not meet requirements for public notice nor a sufficient comment period.

The ruling leaves a patchwork of regulation across the country as courts have issued stays blocking the rule in 24 states. Consequently, the South Carolina ruling only impacts those states that do not have a legal stay in place blocking WOTUS.

“Due to a misguided ruling by a single federal district court today, the overbroad, vague and illegal 2015 Waters of the United States Rule is now the law of the land in twenty-six states,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall in a statement. “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. The U.S. District Court for South Carolina was wrong to invalidate the agency’s ‘applicability rule’ that had simply delayed the effective date of the 2015 WOTUS rule. 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. Today’s court ruling creates enormous regulatory uncertainty and risk for farmers, ranchers and others in the 26 states that are not already protected from the unlawful 2015 rule by previous court decisions.”

The proposed rule was a rallying cry for a host of agricultural organizations, because it broadened the enforcement scope of the Clean Water Act beyond the “navigable waters” outlined in the original act. It also created regulatory uncertainty as to how far that enforcement power could reach.

EPA has not yet indicated whether the agency will appeal the ruling.

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Spell Check

Augusta, ME
8/17/2018 11:09 AM

  Most of these regulations that are being eliminated or are planned for elimination is a waste of time. It's just temporary, and they will be back and maybe worse that what was there before. The culture of not only this country but the civilized world is to error on the side of safety when it concerns health and the environment. We've seen too many disasters in the past due to a lack of regulation so now modern society wants to take better care of our home and it's felt it's better to be safe than sorry.

Helena, MT
8/17/2018 05:19 PM

  These "rules", basically fraudulent interpretations of the the law were struck down by SCOTUS. Obama ignored the ruling and implemented anyway. So, now, one lower judge overrides everybody. This has to stop.

RW Force
Moscow, ID
8/17/2018 05:09 PM

  From eenews: WOTUS now applies in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.


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