With a large percentage of Montana slated to be regulated under the 2015 Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) Rule, the Montana Farm Bureau expressed cautious optimism in today’s ruling that federal district courts have the jurisdiction to review the unlawful rule.
“WOTUS is the rule that would have regulated every mud puddle and seasonal stream in the country. The fact the U.S. Supreme Court gave WOTUS to the federal district courts to review—not federal courts of appeals—is a step in the right direction,” said Montana Farm Bureau President Hans McPherson.
“Last year, a federal district court in North Dakota granted a preliminary injunction blocking implementation of the new Environmental Protection Agency rule defining WOTUS under the Clean Water Act,” said McPherson. “Montana was one of 13 states in the lawsuit which claimed the WOTUS rule is a threat to state sovereignty because it asserts federal jurisdiction over wetlands, waters and even dry land that should be subject to state government control. We are confident that once the case is turned back to the district courts, the North Dakota federal district court will re-instate that stay. That bodes well for Montana.”
Although today’s U.S. Supreme Court rule is mainly positive, there is concern about the uncertainty and confusion in the short term because the Sixth Circuit must soon lift its nationwide stay of the 2015 rule. Meanwhile the Environmental Protection Agency has not yet finalized its proposed rule to delay the application of the 2015 WOTUS rule while the agency considers whether to permanently repeal that rule.
“We will need to watch very closely to see what the EPA and the courts decide,” McPherson added.
The American Farm Bureau is considering its options to avoid application of the 2015 rule while EPA moves forward with an appropriate long-term solution that provides clear rules and clean water without requiring a federal permit to plow a field.