Court sends 2015 WOTUS rule back to EPA

A federal court in Georgia says the 2015 Waters of the United States rule is unlawful under the Clean Water Act, due to its “vast expansion of jurisdiction over water and lands that typically fall within states’ regulatory authority.” The federal court for the Southern District of Georgia found that the agency overstepped both the Clean Water Act and the Administrative Procedure Act.

The APA lays out the basic rules on how agencies may propose and establish federal regulations. The Georgia court kept a preliminary injunction in place that prevents the rule from becoming law in 11 states involved with the lawsuit while the Environmental Protection Agency finalizes its repeal and replacement of the Obama-era 2015 rule.

The American Farm Bureau Federation says the ruling wasn’t just a victory for the plaintiff states, but also a broad coalition of more than a dozen private-sector groups.

“The court ruling is a clear affirmation of exactly what we have been saying for the past five years,” says AFBF General Counsel Ellen Steen. “The EPA badly misread Supreme Court precedent and encroached on the traditional powers of the states. They simply ignored the basic principles of the Administrative Procedure Act when issuing this unlawful regulation.”

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