In two separate federal cases, the waters of the U.S. rule (WOTUS) issued by the Biden administration, has been put on hold in 26 states after two federal judges in Texas and North Dakota issued preliminary injunctions.
The first occurred on March 19, 2023, when Judge Jeffrey Brown, a U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of Texas, issued the first injunction stopping the Biden administration’s rule from going into effect on the following Monday.
That ruling, however, was only granted for the states of Texas and Idaho and denied for the other 18 plaintiffs in the case comprised of national trade associations. They had requested a nationwide injunction but were denied.
Then, on Wednesday, April 12, 2023, a second victory for 24 more states and landowners was issued by Judge Daniel L. Hovland from the U.S. District of North Dakota.
That injunction prevents enforcement of the rule in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.
These two rulings now create a divided nation under Biden’s WOTUS rule bringing relief and sanity to 26 states while unconstitutionally expanding federal authority over water in the remaining 24 states.
What many may not have heard, in February and March of this year, the U.S. Senate and House passed two identical resolutions respectively with bipartisan support that overturned Biden’s WOTUS rule.
The Senate vote included all 49 Republicans with Democrats Joe Manchin (WV), Jon Tester (MT), Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen of Nevada, and independent Kyrsten Sinema (AZ). The same number of Democrats in the House joined the 222 Republicans and passed the resolution 227 to 198.
The resolution required only a simple majority for adoption because the Republicans forced a vote under the Congressional Review Act that allows for Congress to challenge recent executive branch decisions.
However, on April 7th, the Friday before Easter weekend, Biden vetoed the measure, only his second veto of his presidency.
And, that is why this second ruling by the Federal Court came at such a critical time.
In fact, the Judge declared several key findings in his decision. They include:
“The Court finds that the new 2023 Rule is neither understandable nor ‘intelligible,’ and its boundaries are unlimited.”
“The Court notes that the treatment of wetlands is plagued with uncertainty.”
“The phrase ‘waters of the United States, a term that has been hopelessly defined for decades, remains even more so under the 2023 Rule.”
“This Court agrees there are serious constitutional concerns triggered by the implementation of the EPA’s new 2023 Rule.”
In January, Liberty Matters reported that the EPA and Army Corp of Engineers had issued a new WOTUS rule on December 30, 2022. The ruling broadens the scope and magnitude of the current rule creating detrimental consequences for landowners, farmers, and ranchers.
The Judge in the first decision declared Texas and Idaho effectively showed how deeply the rule would harm them and that the Biden administration’s WOTUS Rule “greatly expands its breadth” (from the current Rule) beyond what previous Supreme Court decisions had intended.
Fortunately, 24 states’ Attorneys General and industry leaders decided to fight this ruling and the North Dakota case just gave the Biden administration great heartburn on top of the Texas ruling.
Sackett v. EPA
Another WOTUS case we reported on in January is awaiting a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court in the next few weeks to months. Mike and Chantell Sackett are from Idaho and they sued the EPA for stopping them from building their family home claiming they unlawfully discharged fill dirt into the WOTUS.
These two rulings issued in Texas and North Dakota temporarily enjoining the rule from taking effect in 26 states, makes the SCOTUS ruling this summer in the Sackett case all that more relevant and important to the rest of the nation. And it’s not unnoticed by the federal agencies.
State Sovereignty Defended
One of the great aspects of this story is how states are stepping up to defend their sovereignty against this hostile administration. At least 26 states sued on both statutory and constitutional grounds asserting the administration violated their states’ sovereignty and exceeded its authority by violating the Commerce Clause, the Tenth Amendment, and the Due Process Clause.
More states are stepping up on this and a multitude of other abhorrent and unlawful acts being foisted upon our nation, states, and our citizens by the Biden administration. With the U.S. Supreme Court being as conservative as it is, it proves how important it is to have a conservative, patriotic president with a U.S. Senate confirming appointments to the federal judiciary bench.
https://www.dtnpf.com/agriculture/web/ag/news/article/2023/04/12/federal-judge-north-dakota-issues-24 Progressive Farmer 4/12/23
https://www.inforum.com/news/north-dakota/federal-judge-in-north-dakota-halts-wotus-in-24-states Jenny Schlecht is the director of ag content for Agweek and serves as editor of Agweek, Sugarbeet Grower and BeanGrower.
https://www.nahb.org/blog/2023/04/nd-wotus National Association of Homebuilders press release