Ag Policy Blog

Sixth Circuit WOTUS Ruling Hailed as Ag Victory

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Staff Reporter
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Clearly the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling Friday to issue a stay on the waters of the United States rule isn't the last court action we'll see on the rule. Ag groups and members of Congress who have been fighting the rule tooth and nail, however, hailed the stay as a victory. Conservation groups weren't so happy.

In issuing a stay the court said various aspects of how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers went about promulgating the rule are in question, indicating the court agrees to some extent with the 30 some states and other plaintiffs that sued to stop the rule.

Ultimately the case could find its way to the U.S. Supreme Court on a number of legal questions.

As the news broke Friday, a number of groups and members of Congress issued statements in response -- perhaps far too many to include in a single story.

Here's what others had to say about the ruling:

-Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway, R-Texas:

"This is a tremendous victory for agriculture and the 18 states that challenged the EPA on its egregious power grab. I have vocalized my concerns since the EPA and Army Corps first proposed this rule, knowing that farmers and ranchers -– the best and original stewards of our nation's land and water –- would suffer dire consequences if the agencies pushed forward without consulting the very people the rule would affect. I am encouraged by the court's decision to stay this rule and the court's acknowledgment that the states have demonstrated a substantial possibility of success on the merits of their claims against the EPA. As the states continue challenging the rule, we will continue with our efforts in Congress to defeat the implementation of WOTUS."

-Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb.:

"Today's ruling is good news for families and communities in Nebraska and across the nation. Since this rule was first proposed, I have heard from countless Nebraskans, businesses, agriculture producers, and local and county officials across our state. The response over the far-reaching impact of this rule has been overwhelming.

"While a previous court decision has halted WOTUS implementation in Nebraska, the Sixth Circuit's nationwide stay is a critical step toward eliminating this rule altogether. I will continue to hold the EPA accountable and support legislation that ensures the citizens of Nebraska, not bureaucrats in Washington, remain in control of our state's water resources."

-House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas:

"Today's ruling is a win for America's farmers, landowners and small businesses. The court has recognized what we have long known. The EPA is out-of-control. The Waters of the U.S. rule would negatively impact states and local communities. It would allow the EPA to regulate virtually every body of water in the United States, including private and public lakes, ponds and streams. This far-reaching rule was not based on sound science and I applaud the court for recognizing its deficiencies."

-Whit Fosburgh, president and chief executive officer of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership:

"The court's decision is obviously disappointing. It sends us back to the confused implementation of the Clean Water Act that existed before the rule. What's more, putting the rule on hold nationwide ignores the wishes of the seven states, and the District of Columbia, that have asked the court to support the new rule and the clean water protections it affords. Regardless, today's ruling is only preliminary, and the court acknowledges the need for a new rule and the rigorous, science-based process the EPA and the Corps has used to write one. Sportsmen and women across the nation remain steadfast in our support of better clean water protections and are confident that, when the dust settles in the courts, the clean water rule will withstand challengers claiming that it protects our water too much."

-Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton:

"We are pleased that the Sixth Circuit agreed with Texas and the other states that EPA's new water rule should be stayed. The court's ruling is good news for property owners whose land would have been subject to extensive new federal regulations due to this overreaching new water rule. In effect, the WOTUS rules are simply a blatant power grab by the EPA, and Texas will continue to fight against this ill-conceived and overly broad rule in court."

-Missouri Cattlemen's Association President Janet Akers:

"The EPA is simply out of control and has demonstrated an unwillingness to listen to or work with farmers, ranchers, industry and business of any kind in Missouri or across the country. The water rule is not just an agriculture problem but extends to all property owners and many other industries.

"Over the past eight years, this agency has shown a blatant disregard for the men and women tasked with providing food, fiber and fuel for this country. Despite the EPA administrator's accusations of exaggeration and fear mongering by industry groups, the court's decision adds additional merit to the arguments we have made from the very beginning."

-House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah:

"Today's decision is welcome news for many Americans. The EPA's attempt to regulate puddles and ditches is a disaster for landowners and farmers across the country. Under President Obama, the EPA has a history of rushing out rules despite significant opposition, even from other executive branch agencies. In light of this decision, the EPA should withdraw this rule immediately."

-National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) Senior Vice President and General Counsel Linda Kelly:

"This is tremendous victory for manufacturers against an expansive interpretation by the EPA of its jurisdiction to regulate land and water in this country. The Manufacturers' Center for Legal Action is relieved that a federal appeals court agrees with us that the EPA very likely exceeded its statutory and constitutional authority to expand its jurisdiction.

"Once again, the courts have had to step in and restrain the EPA from asserting powers it does not have. Unfortunately, it's a fact of life these days that we have to ask the courts to intervene, but we are pleased that they see through this attempt by the agency to expand its reach into so many facets of American life."

-Izaak Walton League Executive Director Scott Kovarovics:

"The decision today to temporarily halt implementation of the clean water rule is disappointing. In making this decision, the court prioritized the status quo that existed before the new rule was finalized. The 'status quo' now means uncertainty about which streams and wetlands are protected under the Clean Water Act. It means that waters essential for hunting, fishing, and the outdoor recreation economy remain at risk. And it means that drinking water supplies for one in three Americans remain threatened.

"For Izaak Walton League members nationwide, the status quo is not acceptable. We look forward to a speedy resolution to this case and a final decision that upholds the clean water rule and common-sense protections for our nation’s waters."

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