In today’s Water Works, brought to you by AquiMax, the WOTUS Rule returned to several states including California and many are wondering how that happened. The Trump Administration had been working on a two-step process to repeal and replace the 2015 Waters of the United States Rule known as WOTUS. The enforcement of the rule was effectively put on hold back in February and has since returned after a federal district court ruling.
“Step one was the repeal and along with that the administration put forth an ‘applicability date’ rule which holds the application of the 2015 rule until 2020,” said Senior Council for the California Farm Bureau Federation (CFBF) Kari Fisher. “That is the rule that was subsequently challenged by various environmental groups in the South Carolina court.”
The argument made to a federal judge in South Carolina was that the process which established the applicability date rule violated the Administrative Procedures Act. “The federal district court in South Carolina did agree that the process behind that applicability date was not legal…it entered an immediately effective, nationwide injunction against the applicability date rule,” said Fisher.
As a result of the injunction invalidating the applicability date rule, the WOTUS Rule returned to the states that did not already have an injunction against the 2015 WOTUS Rule. “There’s 26 states in which the 2015 WOTUS Rule is the law of the land and that does include California,” Fisher noted.
The controversy surrounding the WOTUS Rule itself stems from the broad definition dictating how waterways and wetlands are protected. Federal jurisdiction over private lands will be greatly expanded under the rule. CFBF notes an analysis performed by a mapping firm, which shows approximately 95 percent of the state’s surface area will be affected by the WOTUS rule. There are currently several states, along with multiple agricultural and industry groups that are actively engaged in various forms of litigation to push-back the rule.
Listen to the interview below.