A federal judge in North Dakota issued an injunction halting the implementation of the Obama Administration and Environmental Protection Agency’s rule to redefine and expand jurisdiction over Waters of the United States (WOTUS). The ruling came just one day before the WOTUS rule was set to take effect.
“We are very happy to see that the judge halted this rule, and even better that South Dakota was one of the state’s taking the lead in the suit,” said Bob Fortune, President of South Dakota Stockgrowers Association. “We have been very worried about what this rule would do to our ranchers. Thanks to the leadership of Attorney General Marty Jackley, South Dakota is, at least for now, not going to have to worry about EPA expanding its jurisdiction over our family ranches.”
In the ruling issued just one day before the WOTUS rule was to go into effect, Judge Ralph R. Erickson found that, “States are likely to succeed on their claim because (1) it appears likely that the EPA has violated its Congressional grant of authority in its promulgation of the Rule at issue, and (2) it appears likely the EPA failed to comply with APA requirements when promulgating the Rule.”
EPA continues to hold that the rule won’t expand jurisdiction or control over private land, but by their own admission, the rule would include up to 5% more land that is currently not subject to EPA. Agriculture groups opposed to the rule contend the expansion would be much larger.
“Stockgrowers is very concerned that the WOTUS rule will expand the jurisdiction that EPA has over water on private lands, and over land that drains water. It would require ranchers to deal with federal permits and face huge penalties for standard practices like building fences and building stockdams on their own land,” explained Fortune.
The injunction means that the WOTUS rule won’t go into effect in the states included in the suit. The 13 states exempted by the ruling are Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. The final decision on the WOTUS rule will be considered at a future hearing in the North Dakota Federal Court.
Fortune. “Our ranches take water quality and conservation very seriously, and do a great job of protecting our natural resources. The overreach of the EPA by implementing the WOTUS rule is just too much and we are glad to see the federal court support our concerns.”