Federal Court Blocks Biden’s Far-Reaching ‘Waters Of The United States’ Regulation

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A federal court granted a preliminary injunction Wednesday against the Biden administration’s “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule that extends the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regulatory authority.

The new rule, which defines what “navigable waters” are subject to government regulation under the Clean Water Act, allowed the EPA to claim regulatory authority over lands containing small streams and wetlands. District of North Dakota Judge Daniel Hovland granted 24 states who sued the EPA over the rule in February a preliminary injunction on Wednesday, finding they have “persuasively shown that the new 2023 Rule poses a threat to their sovereign rights and amounts to irreparable harm.”

“The States involved in this litigation will expend unrecoverable resources complying with a rule unlikely to withstand judicial scrutiny,” the court found.

Hovland also stated that the rule appears to “directly” affect landowners who are now “potentially subject to federal jurisdiction and permitting requirements,” forcing them to “undertake expensive assessments or forgo their activities.” He noted the “dire need” for clarification on what constitutes a navigable water, holding out hope that the Supreme Court’s pending decision in Sackett v. EPA will settle the issue.

“Until then, every state will continue to swim in waters of uncertainty, ambiguity, and chaos,” Hovland wrote. (RELATED: Biden Vetoes Bipartisan Attempt To Repeal EPA’s ‘Waters Of The United States’ Rule)

Last week, President Biden vetoed a bipartisan bill designed to overturn the new rule. Republicans have criticized the rule for the burden it places on farmers and landowners.

“The agencies are reviewing the decision and their options,” an EPA spokesman told the DCNF. “The agencies continue to believe the rule, which is informed by the text of the relevant provisions of the Clean Water Act and the statute as a whole, as well as the scientific record, relevant Supreme Court case law, input from public comment, and the agencies’ experience and technical expertise after more than 45 years of implementing the longstanding pre-2015 regulations defining waters of the United States, is the best interpretation of the Clean Water Act.”

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