Finally, the Obama Era Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) Rule that vastly expanded federal control over ditches, potholes, farm ponds and other small waters is being overturned, but only in Texas.
A Texas federal court is the first to overturn the 2015 WOTUS rule on procedural and fairness grounds, amid years of ongoing suits by dozens of state governments and trade groups, including the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF).
The law is still in force in other states, amid injunctions in many. Don Parish, of the American Farm Bureau Federation, has this on the Texas ruling
“This is a huge win for us…that this water rule was invalid…it was invalid in how the Obama Administration promulgated it. We think it went so far as to write the term ‘navigable’ out of the Clean Water Act and probably violated the constitution as well. This judge, he didn’t have to go that far. He just said ‘They screwed up the process, I’m remanding the rule back for the agencies to do something about it,’” Parish said.
The Trump Administration – Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is working on a replacement rule that could be out this summer.
“We hope they’re going to finalize a rule that repeals the 2015 Obama rule and by the end of this year, or early 2020, they propose a new rule that we would be more apt to support—one that is going to provide some clarity and understanding, so farmers don’t have to worry about having to ‘read tea leaves’ to figure out how to comply with the law,” Parish said.
Despite the Texas ruling, WOTUS is in limbo in many other states.
“There are about 26 states that aren’t implementing the 2015 rule. There are about 24 states that are implementing the 2015 rule. The administration is doing their job, implementing the rules in a patchwork fashion, the way the courts are kind oflaying it out, and that’s a tragedy for our members,” Parish said.
He adds those members are faced with the cost of complying with a law, which may soon be gone.