Today, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit halted further legal process in the fight against the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule. The Court issued a nationwide stay, the stoppage of an entire case or a specific proceeding within a case.
In layman’s terms, the courts recognize that this EPA ruling is a big deal and a lot of people are impacted. Given the appeals to the ruling, even the courts can’t determine which court has jurisdiction or where decisions should be taking place. The nationwide stay will eliminate any further decisions from occurring while the judiciary determines procedurally how court cases regarding the WOTUS rule will be handled.
Several agricultural groups have weighed in on this ruling over the course of the past several months, including National Corn.
Chip Bowling, president of the National Corn Growers Association and a farmer from Newburg, Maryland, issued the following statement:
“Today’s decision is great news for America’s farmers and ranchers. WOTUS was supposed to make things clearer for farmers about their responsibilities under the Clean Water Act. This rule is anything but clear. We are confident that the courts will eventually strike down EPA’s WOTUS rule altogether. The Army Corps of Engineers has already said the rule is not based on science or law and is unlikely to withstand a legal challenge.
“But court battles take months, if not years – and come at a considerable cost. There has to be a better way for us to work together on a rule that is successful and lawful. That’s why we are asking the Senate to step up and pass S. 1140, the Federal Water Quality Protection Act. This law would stop WOTUS and give the EPA, the Army Corps, farmers, and other stakeholders the chance to work together on a better rule that we can all support.
“Clean water is important to us all. NCGA is committed to working with these agencies and other stakeholders to protect America’s water resources.”
Bob Stallman, President of the American Farm Bureau Federation, said in a statement.
“The judges expressed deep concerns over the basic legality of this rule. We’re not in the least surprised: This is the worst EPA order we have seen since the agency was established more than 40 years ago. The court clearly understood our arguments,” Stallman said.
The decision expands a stay that a North Dakota judge imposed in August, the day before the rule took effect, and that only applied to 13 states.
While farmers and ranchers are confident the courts will strike down this rule, cases like this almost always take years to win—and stays don’t last forever, Stallman noted. “So we again ask the Senate to pass legislation to nullify this rule just as the House has already done. Farmers and ranchers cannot afford to wait.”
Philip Ellis, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association president said this action will prevent implementation of the WOTUS rule.
“This is great news for cattlemen and women and all land users who have been at a loss as to how to interpret this rule,” said Ellis. “A stay by the Court has the same effect as an injunction, and this action prevents the EPA and Army Corps from implementing this disastrous rule across the country. In granting the stay, the majority of the Court sided with the states that the rule likely fails on both substantive and procedural grounds.”