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WOTUS rule resurrected by judge

Enforcement of the 2015 WOTUS rule is back for some states, but not for all.

The Trump administration suspended the Obama-era rule to allow the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to rewrite it, but South Carolina U.S. District Judge David Norton says federal agencies didn’t follow the public-comment requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act when they suspended WOTUS earlier this year.

Norton’s ruling is nationwide but does not have a nationwide impact because of other U.S. District Court decisions.

The South Carolina judge’s decision returns the 2015 WOTUS rule immediately to 26 states including Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, Minnesota, and Michigan.  States including Indiana, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wisconsin are not impacted by the Norton decision.

Farm groups were quick to react to the ruling.  American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall issued a statement saying, “Due to a misguided ruling by a single federal district court today, the overbroad, vague and illegal 2015 Waters of the United States Rule is now the law of the land in twenty-six states.”  Duvall calls on the Trump administration to take immediate steps to limit the impact of the court’s decision to avoid widespread uncertainty and potential enforcement against ordinary farming activities.

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Chief Environmental Counsel Scott Yager says, “Today’s ruling underscores the urgent need to finalize the repeal of the 2015 Waters of the United States rule. The South Carolina court has effectively brought WOTUS back from the dead in 26 states, creating a zombie version of the 2015 rule that threatens the rights of farmers and ranchers across the country. NCBA will continue to fight in the courts and in Congress to kill the 2015 WOTUS rule once and for all.”

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