WOTUS woes: Dozens of lawsuits filed over controversial EPA water rule

Buckeye Farm News

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency needs to withdraw the controversial “Waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) rule and start over again. This message is being repeated across the country by Farm Bureau, judges, lawmakers and landowners. Dozens of lawsuits have been filed by states, Farm Bureaus and other agricultural groups against the new rule, which significantly expands federal Clean Water Act jurisdiction. Nearly all of the nation’s total acreage will now be under the EPA’s scrutiny.

A federal judge in North Dakota recently blocked the rule’s implementation in the 13 states that filed the case before him, saying it was “arbitrary and capricious” and that it would cause states to lose their sovereignty over intrastate waters.

In response to that ruling, the EPA said it would not apply WOTUS to those 13 states until litigation was concluded. Ohio was not part of that lawsuit but Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine filed a separate lawsuit in June against EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers saying the WOTUS rule “clearly violates both the language and the spirit of the Clean Water Act, which recognizes the rights of states to serve as trustees of their natural resources.”

Farm Bureau has called on the Senate to follow the House’s lead in passing legislation that would block the EPA from enforcing the rule, which it called “disturbingly vague and subject to abuse by future regulators.” American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman pointed out that the EPA’s inconsistent application of the rule was unfair.

“For much of the nation, this unlawful rule will continue to create uncertainty and legal risk for commonplace land uses like farming and ranching. It’s clear that now is the time for Congress to act and pass S. 1140 to send EPA back to the drawing board. We won’t stop until this rule is finished.”

While the new WOTUS rule is broad and vague and under attack in several courts, farmers and landowners are still expected to comply with it. Farm Bureau has created a four-page document that spells out which features on your land now fall under the rule, what activities may cause a violation and where to go for help.





Lynn Snyder 

Lynn Snyder is senior director of communications for Ohio Farm Bureau.