Ag News

Court orders WOTUS rule back in effect in 26 states

In February, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a rule that delayed implementation of the Obama-era Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) regulation until 2020. The delay was meant to give the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers time to develop a new WOTUS rule in accordance with an executive order from President Donald Trump.

On Aug. 16, a federal judge in South Carolina issued a nationwide injunction on the Trump administration’s February delay—effectively greenlighting the WOTUS rule in 26 states. The rule cannot proceed in the remaining 24 states, including Georgia, on account of a separate federal court order that temporarily blocks WOTUS implementation until a number of pending lawsuits challenging its validity can be resolved.

Georgia Farm Bureau (GFB) and the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) have been leading voices opposing the WOTUS rule since it was first proposed in 2013, maintaining that the rule goes beyond what Congress intended when it passed the Clean Water Act. GFB supports the complete repeal of the WOTUS rule.

“While Georgia isn’t immediately affected by the ruling in South Carolina, we’re disappointed with the court’s decision,” said Georgia Farm Bureau President Gerald Long. “The provisions of the WOTUS rule place real and excessive burdens on farmers and ranchers, giving the federal government jurisdiction over the vast majority of farmland nationwide.”

On Aug. 20, AFBF asked the U.S. District Court of South Carolina to issue a stay on its order.