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WOTUS Goes to Court

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WOTUS Goes to Court

The EPA’s massive land grab under the Waters of the U.S. rule is finally going to court. A lawsuit to stop the EPA from implementing the Waters of the US. rule is moving slowly through the legal process. This week, farm groups filed a 100 page brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. AFBF chief legal counsel Ellen Steen says actions by the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers are more than enough to justify striking down the Waters of the U.S. rule, “They violated the processes that are required in issuing new regulations by ignoring public comment, ridiculing public comments during the rulemaking process, withholding key documents until after the public comment period had ended, and then on top of that they flew right over the bounds of their limits under the Clean Water Act and what’s required under the constitution for a regulation like this.”

Steen says there is so much wrong with the rule that it was hard to get it all listed in the court documents, “The toughest part was finding a way to condense down to something even that short all the reasons why this rule violates the law. EPA and the Corps of Engineers did so much wrong that it’s really hard to distill it down to just under 100 pages.” She added the rule was written so vaguely, it allows the EPA to do about anything it wants, “They wrote the regulation in such vague terms that it allows bureaucrats in Washington to do just about whatever they want, without providing the public with fair notice of what land features are going to be regulated. So, there’s a lot that’s wrong with this rule.” It has taken years to get to this point and will likely take more time before we get a court ruling. “It’s almost anybody’s guess how long it would take for them to hear argument and then reach a decision. It could be that we would have a decision from the court by sometime next summer, or it could go longer than that,” said Steen.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati last October issued a stay on implementation of the regulation until disposition of numerous lawsuits against it. Those suits were consolidated in the 6th Circuit. “The WOTUS rule is vague, overbroad, and fails to let regulated parties know when their conduct violates the law,” said NPPC President John Weber, a pork producer from Dysart, IA. “We all want clean water, but this regulation is just a big land grab that promotes growth in the size of government and allows activists to extort and micromanage all kinds of farming and business activities.”  Tracy Brunner, NCBA president and Kansas cattle producer, said, “Cattlemen and women have long asked for clarity in the Clean Water Act, yet this rule adds subjectivity. By violating fundamental tenets of administrative law and expanding jurisdiction well beyond the text and structure of the Clean Water Act, it is very clear the WOTUS rulemaking was flawed from start.”  PLC President Dave Eliason said WOTUS is just one example of the onslaught of regulations that rural America is facing.