Farm Water Rules on Hold After Injunction

Aug 28, 2015

Some of the nation's largest farm groups are cheering after a federal judge blocked implementation Thursday of new rules governing water pollution.

U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson issued a preliminary injunction delaying the rules, which had been set to take effect Friday, saying that the Environmental Protection Agency had overstepped its bounds. Thirteen states sued the agency, seeking to prevent implementation, and Erickson said the "states are likely to succeed in their claim."

The rules, which grant the EPA authority over some streams and tributaries under the Clean Water Act, are known as the “Waters of the U.S.” rules, or WOTUS. Some in Farm Country have seen them as a federal power grab.

The EPA, however, says it is granted power to regulate rivers and that ensuring tributaries are pollution-free is merely an extension of that authority.

The EPA spent months trying to sell the regulations to farmers, but most did not bite. The American Farm Bureau and the National Cattleman's Beef Association are among the farm groups that pledged to fight new water regulation.

Thanks to the injunction, WOTUS is currently on hold while the matter is in the courts.

Courts in West Virginia and Georgia ruled earlier in the week that they did not have jurisdiction to rule on the lawsuits.