A ruling that ranchers, farmers and other landowners have been desperately hoping for came to fruition Oct. 9 when the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati issued a nationwide stay on the EPA-Army Corps of Engineers Waters of the U.S. (WPTUS) rule.
The rule follows an earlier stay issued by a North Dakota court that only applied to certain states. This ruling applies to all 50 states.
The appeals court considered four different suits regarding the WOTUS rule, combining them into the final ruling. Altogether,19 different litigation coalitions have filed lawsuits against implementation of WOTUS, says Scott Yager, environmental counsel for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.
The court, in a 2-1 ruling, cited the substantial possibility of legal success for the case against WOTUS on the merits of the claims and cast suspicion on the rulemaking process. Philip Ellis, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association president, said this action will prevent implementation of the WOTUS rule.
“This is great news for cattlemen and women and all land users who have been at a loss as to how to interpret this rule,” said Ellis. “A stay by the Court has the same effect as an injunction, and this action prevents the EPA and Army Corps from implementing this disastrous rule across the country. In granting the stay, the majority of the Court sided with the states that the rule likely fails on both substantive and procedural grounds.”
According to Bob Stalman, American Farm Bureau president, “The judges expressed deep concerns over the basic legality of this rule. We’re not in the least surprised: This is the worst EPA order we have seen since the agency was established more than 40 years ago. The court clearly understood our arguments."
Stalman is confident that the courts will strike down this rule. "Unfortunately, we also know stays don’t last forever, and cases like this almost always take years to win. So we again ask the Senate to pass legislation to nullify this rule just as the House has already done. Farmers and ranchers cannot afford to wait.”
NCBA’s Yager hailed the ruling as a great decision. “We’re going to have the rule stayed, so that means you don’t have to worry about it just yet. We can let these lawsuits play out and figure out what is the correct court to hear the case in. And in the meantime, you don’t need to worry about it too much. It’s status quo, what the law of the land has been before the WOTUS rule.”
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