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Judge Blocks EPA Waters Rule

Commodity groups are responding positively Friday to an injunction issued late Thursday that at least temporarily blocks implementation of the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Waters of the U.S. rule. Judge Ralph Erickson of the District Court for the District of North Dakota found that 13 states suing to block the rule met the conditions needed for a preliminary injunction.

The National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG), said the group is pleased by the thoughtful action of the North Dakota district court late Thursday to block implementation of the Waters of the U.S. regulation. The parties involved in the temporary injunction will not be subject to the new rule, effective today, and instead will be subject to prior regulation.” Regarding the court's action, NAWG president, Brett Blankenship made the following statement:

“NAWG is encouraged by the action taken in the North Dakota district court to approve a temporary injunction against the Waters of the U.S. regulation.  This decision provides breathing room for grower concerns to be discussed in the courts without enforcement of the Environmental Protection Agency’s draconian new rule hanging over the heads of our nation’s family farmers.

“We will watch closely the ongoing lawsuits and call on Congress to take action to address the regulation in a comprehensive manner. It is time for action to send the regulation back to the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to be rewritten.  Wheat growers support clean water and know the importance of protecting the natural resources that sustain our farming operations, feed our families, and feed a growing world population. The Waters of the U.S. regulation expands the reach of the Clean Water act and falls short in providing clarity to growers.”

Chip Bowling, president of the National Corn Growers Association and a farmer from Newburg, Maryland, said in a statement:

“We support the judge’s decision in North Dakota, which should give the courts and the public more time to figure out how to proceed with WOTUS. The Army Corps of Engineers has stated this rule is not based on science or law and is unlikely to withstand a legal challenge. When even the federal agencies responsible for this rule can’t agree on its constitutionality, it’s time for EPA to withdraw the rule and start this process over.

“It is EPA’s view that this injunction only applies to the 13 states that filed the request. We believe EPA is incorrect. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time. Whether the injunction applies to 13 states or all 50, the WOTUS rule will have serious consequences for every farmer and rancher in America. It must not be allowed to stand. From the beginning, we have asked for a rule that provides farmers with clarity and certainty about their responsibilities under the Clean Water Act. Instead, what we got was less clarity and less certainty – along with more paperwork, more permits, and more hassle.

“This court decision reinforces the need to permanently repeal the WOTUS rule. We urge the Senate to pass S. 1140, the Federal Water Quality Protection Act, as soon as possible. This law will force EPA to withdraw WOTUS and work with farmers and other stakeholders to rewrite the rule.

“Clean water is important to all of us. NCGA is committed to working with the EPA, the Corps, and other stakeholders to protect America’s water resources.”

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Philip Ellis issued this statement Friday:

“America’s cattlemen and women applaud the decision of the federal judge in North Dakota to block EPA’s “waters of the United States” rule, which was set to go in effect tomorrow, August 28. EPA’s rule is nothing more than an attempt to put more land and water under federal jurisdiction, blatantly disregarding private property rights. 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 over 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. In a statement released shortly after the decision was made, an EPA spokesperson said the ruling only holds for 13 states and that they plan to implement the rule in all others on Friday. If the EPA actually wants to protect navigable waters as it claims, they will put this subjective and ambiguous rule to rest and start over with stakeholders at the table this time around.”

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