U.S. Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood ruled that Georgia, and a coalition of nine states, don’t have to follow an Obama-era clean water rule enforced by the EPA, which the court says is too broad.
Wood ruled that the Obama administration violated procedures when it implemented the 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS).
“… It substantially interferes with an area of traditional state authority without a clear indication from Congress allowing such interference in the CWA [Clean Water Act],” Wood ruled.
Georgia led a coalition of states who have fought the regulations since 2015. They include Alabama, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah, West Virginia and the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
“We are proud to have fought for this relief, and we look forward to reforms that will permanently relieve farmers and landowners of the unnecessary burdens that the 2015 WOTUS Rule created,” Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr said.
At issue is what waters are regulated for pollution– which under Obama expanded to almost any kind of water.
The U.S. Army and the EPA oversee the CWA, which regulates the pollution of the “waters of the U.S.,” making it “unlawful to discharge any pollutant … into navigable waters” without a permit.
The Obama rule added three categories of waters to the CWA: 1-tributaries, 2-adjacent waters, and 3- significant nexus.
1- Tributaries are any water “that contributes flow, either directly or through another water” to a primary water source, including rivers or streams.
2- Adjacent waters are located next to or in the vicinity of a primary water source, including wetlands and ponds.
3- Significant nexus means, “when any single function or combination of functions performed by the water, alone or together with similarly situated waters in the region, contributes significantly to the chemical, physical, or biological integrity of the nearest” primary water, including floodplains or plant nursery areas.
Meaning, pretty much any water could be included in this, which the American Farm Bureau Federation has argued is absurd.
The federation argues the definitions are too broad, which “make it impossible for farmers and ranchers to know whether the specific ditches, ephemeral drains or low areas on their land will be deemed ‘waters of the U.S.'”
“The court ruling is clear affirmation of exactly what we have been saying for the past five years,” its general counsel, Ellen Steen, said in a statement. “The EPA badly misread Supreme Court precedent.”