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Waters of the US suspension bolsters hopes in ag industry

Clovis Livestock Market News of Clovis, New Mexico

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A federal appeals court on Oct. 9 said that the U.S. government cannot not begin implementing the controversial "Waters of the U.S." rule that governs what waterways are subject to federal Clean Water Act permits and which waterways are not.

"This is great news for cattlemen and women and all land users who have been at a loss as to how to interpret this rule," Phillip Ellis, president of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, said in response to the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. "A stay by the court has the same effect as an injunction, and this action prevents the EPA and Army Corps from implementing this disastrous rule across the country. In granting the stay, the majority of the court sided with the states that the rule likely fails on both substantive and procedural grounds."

The rule has been highly unpopular with the farming and ranching community, which views it as an example of government over reach by the Environ mental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The implementation of the rule has also been extremely confusing to farmers and ranchers. In September, a federal court in North Dakota issued an injunction against the rule in 13 states just as it was ready to go into effect.

That decision applies to the 13 states involved in that particular case, and many expected it to cover the other 37 states that have lawsuits pending on the very same regulation.

But the EPA said in August the hotly debated rule would go into effect on Friday, Aug. 28, as planned everywhere but those 13 states.

An online poll done in September found that 53% of farmers were holding back on water-related projects due to the uncertainty surrounding the WOTUS regulation situation.

The ruling applies across all 50 states, leaving EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers legally unable to implement the rule until the federal courts determine just where the many pending WOTUS cases will be consolidated and eventually decided.

In a statement, the two federal agencies acknowledged the new legal developments regarding the regulation, which was renamed the "Clean Water Rule" when the revised version was released in spring 2015. "The agencies respect the court's decision to allow for more deliberate consideration of the issues in the case and we look forward to litigating the merits of the Clean Water Rule," the statement said, adding: "The Clean Water Rule was developed by the agencies to respond to an urgent need to improve and simplify the process for identifying waters that are and are not protected under the Clean Water Act, and is based on the latest science and the law. The Clean Water Rule represents the agencies' continuing commitment to protecting and restoring the nation's water resources that are vital for our health, environment, and economy. The agencies' prior rule will remain in effect nation wide and we will continue to apply the best science and technical data on a case-by-case basis to waters at issue."

The news of the: in junction, however, clrew cheers from many llA the agricultural community and farm state elected officials.

"I applaud the court for halting the rule in all states to allow justice, and some might say commonsense, to play out," said U.S. Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), who chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee. "Due to the widespread confusion and frustration with the new regulations and pending litigation, this ruling should send a clear signal to the EPA that the rule should be scrapped altogether.

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Original Publication Date: October 23, 2015

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