(VitalNews.org) – The U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota blocked a set of waterway rules from the White House after farmers and industry groups said the rules overreached.
Twenty-four states petitioned the court to suspend the “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rules. Judge Daniel Hovland agreed with the plaintiffs, ruling that the regulations pose a “great” risk to states. He also ruled that the federal government should wait to implement any rules until the Supreme Court rules on a related case before the high court.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced the WOTUS rules on the last working day of 2022, saying they would go into effect in March 2023. EPA administrator Michael Regan said the rule “safeguards our nation’s waters.”
The plaintiffs objected to the scope of the rules, claiming they allowed the federal government to overstep its bounds and interfere with what should be a state-controlled issue. The WOTUS rules give the federal government the right to regulate what it calls “relatively permanent” waterways, in addition to lakes, ponds, and streams.
The Biden administration’s rules are almost identical to regulations set during the Obama administration, which claimed it wanted to stop water pollution. WOTUS is an interpretation of the federal statute called the Clean Water Act, and opponents say it’s an interpretation that is far too broad.
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey welcomed the court decision, calling it a “victory for the states.” If the rules are implemented, he said, it will alter the balance of power between the states and the federal government, and all without Congressional oversight.
Morrisey called the rules a “decades-long effort” by the federal government to extend its regulatory grasp to in-state waterways, not just those traditionally controlled by the federal government. He said the rules are unnecessary, waste time, and cost farmers and associated businesses money they should not have to spend.
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