- The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the American Farm Bureau and others late Wednesday filed a legal motion, asking the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas to strike the entire Waters of the U.S. rule.
- The agriculture groups argued that the Environmental Protection Agency overstepped its authority under the Clean Water Act and that “the entire rule should be vacated” and replaced in a timely manner.
- Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the agency’s 16-year dispute with Idaho landowners in Sackett v. EPA, saying that the agency’s interpretation of wetlands covered by the Clean Water Act was “inconsistent” with the law’s text and structure.
The EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers first implemented regulations under the Clean Water Act to define WOTUS in the 1980s. Since then, there has been much debate and litigation over its definition.
In December, the Biden administration finalized a rule that would give federal protection to large waterways, such as interstate rivers, streams and wetlands that are adjacent to them. Critics have argued that the rule is overly broad, leading to a number of lawsuits seeking to block it from taking effect.
NCBA, Farm Bureau and 16 industry groups on Wednesday called the rule “unlawful,” citing the Supreme Court’s decision that found landowners were at risk of criminal prosecution for doing mundane activities, like moving dirt, in its current iteration.
“A full rewrite of the Biden administration’s WOTUS definition is the only path to comply with the Sackett decision,” NCBA Chief Counsel Mary-Thomas Hart said in a statement.
The Texas court had previously issued a preliminary injunction against the rule for the states of Texas and Idaho.
Earlier this week, EPA and Army Corps said they were developing an updated WOTUS rule that is consistent with the Supreme Court’s decision, expected to be ready by Sept. 1.