Judge halts 2023 WOTUS rule in two states
On March 19, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas halted implementation of the 2023 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rule in Texas and Idaho, but the court denied a jointly filed petition from 18 national trade organizations, including the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), to stop the rule’s implementation nationwide. The rule took effect March 20.
Collectively, the plaintiffs argued that the rule should be struck down for multiple reasons, notably that the 2023 WOTUS Rule pushed by the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers exceeds established statutory authority and that it goes beyond their rights and privileges granted by the U.S. Constitution.
“AFBF is pleased the District Court ordered EPA and the U.S. Army Corps to halt implementation of the troubled 2023 WOTUS Rule in Texas and Idaho,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall said. “The judge recognized the new rule likely oversteps EPA’s authority under the Clean Water Act, which creates uncertainty for the farmers and ranchers who must navigate the complicated regulations.”
Importantly, the agencies pushed the rule through despite the pending status of a case before the U.S. Supreme Court, Sackett v. EPA, that addresses issues that accompany the WOTUS rule. The court heard arguments in October 2022 and is expected to rule this spring.
“These legal challenges send a clear message to EPA that it should rewrite WOTUS to limit its scope to navigable waters,” Duvall said. “Farmers and ranchers share the goal of caring for the natural resources we’re entrusted with, but we need rules that don’t require a team of attorneys to interpret.”
Read the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas ruling here.
In related matters, Georgia is one of 24 states to file a separate suit in a North Dakota District Court, and the U.S. House of Representatives passed a joint resolution of disapproval of the rule on March 9.