EPA Starts Enforcing Costly Wotus Rule Despite Federal Court Stoppage

The Business Council of Alabama’s national partner, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, today urged opposition to an onerous and probably illegal enforcement of a controversial water rule by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that has begun despite a federal judge’s temporary blockage of the rule.

The Waters of the U.S. Rule was published in the Federal Register 60 days ago, which means that today is the day the anti-business EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers planned to start enforcement. The rule was never approved by Congress, which has jurisdiction over water laws.

The U.S. Chamber began a campaign to get members to urge Congress to ditch the rule, which will require farmers, ranchers, and other businesses to get costly federal land use permits even for a non-navigable ditch or field that temporarily may hold water during heavy rains.

Tell Congress to ditch #WOTUS

The rule drastically expands the reach of the federal government and is an expensive obstacle to doing business.

Many businesses will face expensive and prohibitive barriers.

The Hill reported that plans to enforce the rule are at odds with opinions of the judge’s order by both opponents and supporters of the regulation. The regulation declares that small waterways such as streams and wetlands are subject to pollution-control rules under the Clean Water Act.

In response to a petition from 13 states, a North Dakota federal judge on Thursday temporarily blocked the rule’s implementation, saying that the states would likely suffer if it took effect and that they are likely to succeed when their underlying lawsuit against the rule is decided.

But the EPA is interpreting the North Dakota decision to apply only in the states involved in the litigation – Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said the injunction is a big win for states’ rights. 

“I am pleased that the arbitrary and subjective guidelines imposed by the EPA’s [waters of the United States] rule will no longer go into effect today,” he said in a statement. “Such flawed policy should never see the light of day.”

-Dana Beyerle