WOTUS Decision a Win for Manufacturers

The Business Council of Alabama, the National Association of Manufacturers, and businesses across the United States praised Monday’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that the long-standing Waters of the U.S. rule lawsuit belongs in federal district court, not in appellate court.

“A regulation such as this one and its cost to implement by business that has been foisted on businesses and private property owners is one reason that our economy has not recovered as quickly as it should have,” BCA President and CEO William Canary said. “Regulations based on ideology instead of facts, sound business reasoning, and clarity have no place in our system.”

NAM Senior Vice President and General Counsel Linda Kelly said the Supreme Court’s decision in National Association of Manufacturers v. Department of Defense is a “win for manufacturers.”

“For three years, the Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action has fought the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, which seeks to regulate a broad swath of land across the country, even some that isn’t wet,” she said. “We are fighting this overreaching and unfair rule in court because it threatens manufacturing jobs and fails to take a balanced approach to protecting clean water. and wasteful procedural legal limbo.

NAM said a clear rule is needed from the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that empowers everyone to join in protecting U.S. waters.

The court unanimously ruled that challenges to the 2015 rule belong in district court rather than the appellate court, according to Emerging Energy Insights.

President Obama’s EPA and Army Corps of Engineers developed the rule to declare that waters and wetlands fall under federal jurisdiction, even ditches on private property that contained water runoff.

Circuit court of appeals actions were consolidated in the Sixth Circuit, which ruled in 2016 that it had jurisdiction to hear petitions. The decision was appealed to the Supreme Court by industry groups that argued the plain text of the Clean Water Act says district courts were the proper jurisdiction.

Since the decision is related to jurisdiction and not the rules’ merits, the question becomes whether the nationwide stay gets lifted since the Sixth Circuit was ordered to dismiss the case because it does not have jurisdiction, Emerging Energy Insights reports.

The Trump Administration proposes to delay the effective date of the rule until 2020 and the EPA and the Corps have indicated that they want to take final action on this proposal by early 2018, Emerging Energy Insights reported.

The SCOTUS blog has a review of the case.


The “government shutdown” lasted over the weekend when most federal operations are closed and then all of Monday – most federal employees went home at 5 p.m. Friday prior to the midnight deadline for the Senate to pass a continuing resolution to keep federal spending legal.

The Senate voted 81-18 on Monday to break the logjam caused by Democrats demanding that any deal include legalizing illegal immigrants. Alabama’s two U.S. senators and, ultimately, a majority of Democrats voted for the continuing spending resolution.

This authorizes short-term spending through Feb. 8. The three-week bill was identical to the four-week spending measure the House sent to the Senate last week, except the funding will expire on Feb. 8 instead of Feb. 16, the Hill reported.


One of Alabama’s Greatest Assets is Richard Shelby

Al.com (Rane, 1/23) In guest editorial, Jimmy Rane, founder, president and CEO of Great Southern Wood Preserving wrote, “One of Alabama’s greatest assets is its senior United States Senator Richard Shelby.  He is now Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee and has served in recent years as Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee.

“More importantly, Senator Shelby is one of the more senior members of the Senate Appropriations Committee and is in line to become its Chairman. That will make our senator one of the two most powerful people in America when it comes to deciding how the federal government annually spends nearly one trillion dollars, including how much of it furthers preservation of Alabama values, strengthens defense, bolsters senior citizens, improves and constructs road and bridges, and enhances cities and farm.

“So, why is the Alabama Republican Party doing nothing to help maximize Senator Shelby’s effectiveness? And why are they considering a resolution censuring him for his failure to support Roy Moore in last month’s special election?

“What did Senator Shelby do? He said that he couldn’t support Roy Moore for the open Senate and would write in the name of another distinguished Republican.  He did not support the Democrat. He did not tell Republicans to stay home.  He took a stand and did what he believed was right. In doing so, he reminded us that we could do the same. He encouraged us to go to the polls and vote with our conscience, to assess the facts and make our own judgment.

“How much better our nation would be if we had more senators who did that! The truth is, the right to vote is grounded in the people’s voice. We ought to commend the courage of our senior Senator and enthusiastically support him as he prepares to pick up the gavel of the Appropriations Committee of the United State Senate.”

President Trump Eying Options on NAFTA

The Hill (Needham 1/25) “President Trump kept the specter of a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) withdrawal alive on Thursday as negotiators meet this week to hammer out a deal. Trump said the United States must get a better shake in an updated NAFTA deal or he will consider terminating the 24-year-old pact with Canada and Mexico.

“‘I may terminate NAFTA I may not, we’ll see what happens,’ he told CNBC during an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. But he also held out that the possibility that the three long-time trading partners could eventually reach an agreement. ‘I think we have a good chance, but we’ll see what happens,’ Trump said.

“Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo each vowed to work with the United States to reach a deal. Freeland [and] Guajardo will meet with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in Montreal on Monday to wrap up the talks.

“Trump, who has repeatedly threatened to abandon the pact, is facing increasing pressure from congressional lawmakers, especially Republicans, who are warning the White House that leaving the deal would be an economic disaster. The Business Roundtable, a group of top CEOs, on Tuesday released a study showing that the United States would lose 1.8 million jobs in a year without NAFTA.”

Trump Says He Would Re-Enter TPP Trade Deal if It’s Made ‘Substantially Better’

The Hill (Fabian 1/25) “President Trump said Thursday he would consider re-entering the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement if the terms were more favorable to the U.S. ‘I would do TPP if we were able to make a substantially better deal,’ Trump told CNBC during an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Trump called the Pacific Rim trade pact a ‘horrible deal’ as written.

“The comments mark the first time Trump has raised the possibility of rejoining the sweeping trade agreement, which was championed by former President Obama. It’s a surprising stance for Trump, who won the 2016 election on a promise to take a more protectionist stance on trade. At the time, Trump said leaving the TPP is a ‘great thing for the American worker.’ But it’s unclear what, exactly, could entice Trump to re-enter the agreement.

“The president did not say what specific changes he wants to see made. The president has repeatedly railed against multilateral trade pacts like TPP and the North American Free Trade Agreement, which he has threatened to exit if it cannot be renegotiated. The president is also facing pressure from free-traders, both at home and abroad, who say the U.S. could lose its leading economic role if it adopts more protectionist trade practices.”

The Tax Law, Just One Month Old, Is Roaring Through U.S. Companies

Wall Street Journal (Francis, Loftus, Haddon 1/25 Subscription) “From acquisitions and equipment purchases to stock buybacks, firms are rapidly recalibrating their business plans. Weeks after the federal government adopted the biggest tax overhaul in three decades, the effects are rippling through corner offices and boardrooms, with companies large and small dusting off once-shelved plans, re-evaluating existing projects and exploring new investment in factories and equipment.

“The rapid adaptation goes well beyond the early announcements of $1,000 bonuses or minimum-wage increases for rank-and-file workers. And this is just the beginning. The U.S. Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service have offered guidance on just a few of the two dozen provisions in the law that will likely require formal regulations. Companies must start navigating complex rules imposing minimum taxes on foreign income, tax breaks for partnerships and other pass-through entities, faster deductions for capital spending and new limits on interest and operating-loss deductions.

“That the tax bill will have significant effects on corporate finances is certain, though the effects can vary widely by company. Already, analysts expect the legislation to provide a 7% to 8% boost in aggregate per-share profits for the companies in the S&P 500 this year, said Joseph LaVorgna, chief economist for the Americas at Natixis, an international financial-services arm of France’s Groupe BPCE banking firm.”