A Federal court judge in North Dakota issued a preliminary injunction in mid-April against the implementation of the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rule proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). The ruling includes 24 States that jointly filed in North Dakota, including Montana, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. The decision came on the heels of a Federal judge in Texas issuing an injunction in March to block WOTUS in Texas and Idaho. The WOTUS Rule remains in effect in 24 States.
Critics argue that the proposed WOTUS Rule is contrary to the congressional intent of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and infringes on the ability of the States to regulate their own natural resources. However, USEPA says the Rule returns to a reasonable and familiar framework founded on the pre-2015 definition with updates to reflect existing Supreme Court decisions, the latest science, and established limits that appropriately draw the boundary of waters subject to Federal protection.
A Congressional attempt to kill WOTUS, House Joint Resolution 27, was vetoed by President Joe Biden in April. “The 2023 revised definition of ‘Waters of the United States’ carefully sets the bounds for which bodies of water are protected under the Clean Water Act. It provides clear rules of the road that will help advance infrastructure projects, economic investments, and agricultural activities — all while protecting water quality and public health,” said President Biden.
Future editions of The Update will provide information as the legal battle surrounding WOTUS continues.