Looking Ahead at WOTUS
A federal court in South Carolina reinstated the 2015 Waters of the U.S. Act (WOTUS), making it effective in 26 states.
The court ruling is being seen as a tremendous blow for ranchers and landowners who hoped the rule had finally gone by the wayside.
However, the NCBA's Chief Environmental Counsel Scott Yager explains, there is some good news on horizon if the court battle goes all the way to the nations highest court.
Judge David Norton in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina made the ruling, supporting the claims of several environmental groups represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center that the EPA did not follow the Administrative Procedures Act in finalizing its rule to delay the 2015 WOTUS for two years – meaning the agency did not allow sufficient time for public comment and did not solicit comments on the merits of WOTUS or the previous water conservation legislation before finalizing the delay.
The EPA formally issued a two-year delay on WOTUS, Jan. 31, to allow more time for a complete rewrite of the rule. Some states have already taken measures to stay out of the reach of WOTUS. A federal court in North Dakota issued a preliminary injunction against implementation of the rule, protecting 13 states in August 2015. A Georgia federal court did the same for 11 more states in June.
As of Aug. 16, WOTUS is in effect in Iowa, Illinois, California, Washington, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Mississippi, Minnesota, Michigan, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Louisiana, Hawaii, Delaware and Connecticut.