I’m very pleased to announce that our long and difficult fight to bring common sense to the Environmental Protection Agency’s new Clean Water Act definitions today resulted in an important victory in this ongoing battle.
This morning, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit ordered a nationwide stay on the agency’s new definitions, which had dramatically expanded federal jurisdiction over our nation’s wetlands. The court agreed that new definitions finalized earlier this fall “dramatically alter the existing balance of federal-state collaboration in restoring and maintaining the integrity of the nation’s waters,” as the states contesting the new rules had charged.
The EPA had said the new definitions were needed to bring clarity to the regulations. We brought our fight to the American people through the press, to EPA with real economic facts and comments, on Capitol Hill with Congressional testimony and legislation, and finally, a lawsuit – because these new rules did nothing but muddy the waters – creating confusion that would lead to costly permitting delays and hamper our nation’s economic recovery.
The court found a number of problems, including how the new definitions are at odds with the Supreme Court’s earlier rulings and that the final rule, which went into effect Sept. 28, included definitions significantly different from the rule proposed in 2014.
So while the federal courts figure this out, the agencies will have to use their previous definitions. For the time being, EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers must prove that a water is jurisdictional before automatically sweeping it into their regulatory nets.
Our members want to protect our nation’s waters. But we need clear rules. This morning’s court decision is a huge step in the right direction.