Court: EPA Failed to Follow Administrative Procedures Act on WOTUS Rule

DTN writer Todd Neeley reported today that, “The 2015 waters of the United States, or WOTUS, rule may have suffered a final defeat, as a Texas court Tuesday granted a motion for summary judgement to the American Farm Bureau Federation that sends the rule back to EPA.

“The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas ruled EPA violated the law in making changes in the final rule that were not proposed in the preliminary rule.

“‘The court finds that the final rule violated the notice-and-comment requirements of the APA (Administrative Procedures Act) and therefore grants summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs on this ground,’ the court said in its ruling.”

Mr. Neeley noted that, “In drafting the 2015 rule, EPA relied heavily on a so-called draft connectivity report that included the agency’s analysis of numerous studies on the connected nature of the nation’s waters.

“After an EPA scientific advisory board issued comments on the draft connectivity report on Oct. 24, 2014, the agency re-opened the public comment period on the rule for one month.

“‘However, the agencies declined to do the same after issuing the revised version of the connectivity report on Jan. 15, 2015,’ the court said in its ruling.”

The DTN article added that, “On April 3, 2019, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton asked the Texas court to issue a national injunction on the 2015 WOTUS rule, after a court in Ohio denied a similar motion earlier this spring.

“After a long series of court actions the past couple of years, a split remains between states still under jurisdiction of the 2015 rule and those that are not.

“At present, the rule is on hold in 28 states and in effect in 22.

“In the meantime, EPA continues to work on finalizing a new rule.”

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