District Court Rules Obama-Era WOTUS Rule Unlawful

August 27, 2019

A judge in the Southern District Court of Georgia ruled last week the 2015 Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule issued by the Obama administration violates both the Clean Water Act and Administrative Procedure Act. Judge Lisa Wood remanded the rule back to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers for further consideration. 

Judge Wood found the Obama administration rule violated the Clean Water Act by expanding federal control beyond U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s “significant nexus” test for EPA jurisdiction. She also determined the 2015 rule violated the notice and comment requirements in the Administrative Procedure Act. 

The ruling provides further justification for the Trump administration to continue efforts to repeal and replace WOTUS. NCBA and KLA support the administration’s proposed new rule to replace the 2015 version, which created uncertainty and confusion for farmers and ranchers. The proposed rule, which is expected to be finalized later this year, would protect water quality and provide clear rules for stakeholders to follow.