Ag News

Court grants states' requested injunction against WOTUS rule

On June 8, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia granted a preliminary injunction that blocks the 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rule for Georgia and 10 other states.

 “For almost three years, Georgia has led a multi-state coalition fighting against the WOTUS Rule, which infringes on the states’ traditional role as primary regulators of land and water resources within their borders,” Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr said in a press release.  “This order shows that the court agrees we are likely to succeed on the merits of our claims, including that the 2015 WOTUS Rule violates the Clean Water Act and the Administrative Procedure Act. We are proud to have obtained this relief for Georgia citizens and will continue to fight against federal overreach in this case and others.”

Georgia Farm Bureau and the American Farm Bureau Federation have opposed the WOTUS rule since it was proposed by the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2014, saying the rule greatly expanded the agencies’ jurisdiction.

The agencies have delayed implementation of the WOTUS rule until 2020, and in accordance with a 2017 executive order from President Donald Trump, the EPA and Corps of Engineers are reconsidering the rule.

Southern District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood also agreed that if the WOTUS Rule became effective, the states would suffer irreparable harm in the form of both a “loss of sovereignty and unrecoverable monetary losses.”  

The court concluded that blocking the WOTUS rule favors the public interest because it saves “farmers, homeowners, and small businesses” from having to “devote time and expense to obtain federal permits … to comply with a rule that is likely to be invalidated.”

The district court’s order and an earlier injunction granted by the U.S. District Court for North Dakota, injunctions against the 2015 WOTUS rule have been issued in 24 states.