The injunction prevents the rule from going into effect in 13 states that had joined the suit against the EPA. The court’s decision forces the agency to do a full examination of the rule’s impact and to provide time for public feedback.

Cooper david
Managing Editor / Progressive Cattle

Federal District Judge Ralph Erickson found the EPA likely violated its congressional authority and did not comply with federal procedural rules in moving it forward. The injunction said the rule had grounds for being arbitrary and capricious in its assertion of jurisdiction over waters that are “remote and intermittent waters.”

In response, the EPA said it would move forward by enforcing the law in all remaining states not affected by the North Dakota court. Enforcement went into effect on Aug. 28. The court released a statement that it would not extend the injunction beyond the 13 plaintiff states, which are Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers released the rule in what they called an attempt to clarify federal jurisdiction over federal waters and tributaries that fall under the Clean Water Act.

“The EPA and the U.S. Army are ensuring that waters protected under the Clean Water Act are more precisely defined, more predictable, easier for businesses and industry to understand, and consistent with the law and the latest science,” the agency said in its statement.


But a majority of U.S. states disagreed with the law’s granted power to the federal government and argued that its power infringed on state authority to manage waterways in the states. Ag groups and other industries opposed the rule for its restricting potential upon farming, ranching and other natural resource uses.

NCBA President Philip Ellis, in a statement, applauded the court decision.

“Over the last year-and-a-half, the agency continually ignored the concerns of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, farmers, ranchers and landowners across the country, to the point of calling the concerns of cattle producers ludicrous. In fact, only six months after receiving more than 1 million comments, the agency pushed forward to finalize the rule, a clear indication there was no intention of considering public comment or stakeholder input. While the EPA claims it clarifies the Clean Water Act, even the Army Corps, which shares jurisdiction over the rule, has serious concerns for the scientific basis of the rule-making.”  end mark