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State Ag Groups Praise Judge's Stay of WOTUS Rule
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 10/12/2015

A federal appeals court on Friday issued an order temporarily stopping the Environmental Protection Agency's rule expanding the agency's jurisdiction over waterways from going into effect. State Attorney General Brad Schimel previously joined the lawsuit seeking the stay.

Under the federal Clean Water Act, Congress gave the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers regulatory authority over navigable waters. However, under this new rule, the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers greatly expanded the definition of waterways falling under federal jurisdiction to cover many types of waters traditionally under state authority. Several states brought suit against the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers in a number of courts, claiming that this expansion of federal authority over waterways supplants the states' constitutional right to govern their own waters.

The cases were consolidated into one case that is currently pending before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Ohio. In its order last week, the Sixth Circuit ruled that states challenging the rule 'have demonstrated a substantial possibility of success on the merits of their claims.'

"This is an important victory for property owners, and especially for Wisconsin's agricultural industry," Schimel said. "Wisconsin already has strong clean water regulations, and the rule was unnecessary. It is yet another example of the EPA exceeding its constitutional authority."

The president of the Wisconsin Corn Growers Association applauded the decision to halt implementation nationwide. Casey Kelleher of Whitewater claims the WOTUS rule is confusing and unworkable.

"Even EPA's partner in crafting the rule, the Army Corps of Engineers, said WOTUS is unworkable, and that the entire economic analysis used by EPA to support the rule had no basis on economics or science," said Kelleher.

State and national corn growers says the rule would extend the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers' regulatory reach to an untold number of small bodies of water, including roadside ditches and short-lived streams or any other area where the agencies believe water may flow once every 100 years.

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