The Biden administration’s WOTUS, or “Waters of the U.S.” rule, which expands the Clean Water Act’s jurisdiction, officially takes effect today. However, Texas Federal Judge Jeffrey Brown has put a hold on the signature water regulation in Texas and Idaho, heading off the rule amid a push against the signature water regulation.
Two lawsuits, one brought forward by state officials, and another by industry members in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, argued that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers should wait for the upcoming supreme court ruling on Sackett v. EPA before implementing the new regulation. Plaintiffs argued that the new WOTUS rule marked an overstep and return to Reagan-era oversight of wetlands and waterways.
In his ruling, Brown found the EPA and Corps of Engineers, “do not have unbridled jurisdiction to regulate all the nation’s waters.” The consolidated suits were brought by 18 industry groups, Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, and other state agencies.
Although 25 other states filed complaints and motions for preliminary injunctions against the rule, court documents read, “The court is reluctant to deprive states that embrace the Rule from exercising their sovereign rights to conform their conduct accordingly — at least until the Rule’s statutory and constitutional validity has been determined.”
Paxton posted a Tweet in response to WOTUS being blocked by Brown.
Big victory against Biden: Last night a federal court blocked the Admin’s radical “waters of the US” rule, which imposes a leftist environmental agenda on Texas, crushing new regs, and oppressive economic costs. I will always fight to keep Biden’s boots off the necks of Texans! pic.twitter.com/zp2Wv17bhC
— Attorney General Ken Paxton (@KenPaxtonTX) March 20, 2023
Further WOTUS suits filed
Texas Farm Bureau also filed a legal challenge yesterday to the WOTUS rule, joining Matagorda County Farm Bureau, the American Farm Bureau Federation, and 15 other organizations representing agriculture, infrastructure, and housing.
“Texas farmers and ranchers cannot know whether their property or project contains WOTUS, because the rule is hopelessly vague,” TFB President Russell Boening said. “The rule reaches far too broadly to cover wet patches and areas that are usually dry or remote from navigable water. The rule violates the Clean Water Act and the Constitution, as well as Supreme Court case law, and it should be struck down.”
Boening said the rule will require landowners to hire environmental consultants, attorneys and engineers to ensure they are in compliance while trying to farm their land. He said the rule will have broad impacts throughout the country.
“It will slow down or halt projects, increase costs, eliminate jobs, all without improving water quality, which Congress trusted states and localities to regulate where navigation is not involved,” he said.