A federal judge in San Francisco last week denied an 11th-hour bid by a coalition of Democratic attorneys general to halt implementation of the navigable waters protection rule redefining “waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS). In a 15-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg concluded plaintiffs did not provide enough evidence to warrant a preliminary injunction or a delay in the rule’s implementation. This was good news for the livestock industry, as it allowed the final rule to go into effect earlier this week as scheduled.
The new rule narrows the scope of waters that are subject to federal regulation under the Clean Water Act and provides much-needed clarity for landowners. Specifically, it removes ephemeral features from federal control; provides regulatory exclusions for common agricultural features, such as stock ponds and irrigation ditches; and strengthens the exclusion for prior converted cropland.
KLA, NCBA and many other partners fought for years on multiple fronts to get the 2015 WOTUS rule repealed and replaced with a common-sense regulation.