Waters of the U.S. Rule- Cases Consolidated

DTN writer Todd Neeley reported yesterday that, “Numerous legal challenges to the waters of the United States rule will be consolidated as a result of a federal court order Monday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati. The three-judge panel made the decision because of the sheer number of legal challenges filed.

“The Sixth Circuit ruled in April there would be no hearing of the full 23-judge court as requested by a group of petitioners led by the American Farm Bureau Federation.

“‘Although the administrative record is voluminous and the parties numerous, the petitions present a limited number of legal issues and the parties represent discrete sets of interests,’ the court said in the order Monday, indicating that ‘clarity and efficiency’ are important in the cases.”

Mr. Neeley explained that, “The waters of the U.S. rule, commonly called WOTUS, was meant to clarify U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers authority over areas around waterways where the federal government has authority to either require a federal permit or stop any activity that would disturb the waterway. Opponents claim the rule would give the regulatory agencies broad authority over basic farming practices simply because water may pool somewhere after a rain or fill a ditch.

The battle over the rule continues to play out on several fronts. President Barack Obama vetoed legislation earlier this year that would have sent EPA and the Army Corps back to the drawing board in drafting a rule. On Thursday, a vote that would have prevented the agencies from implementing the rule got 56 votes but failed because it needed 60 votes to get into legislation.

“Without consolidation, the court said Monday, the cases would take much longer to resolve. The order is calling for all parties involved to now prepare briefs arguing the merits of the case.”

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