Clements: A coalition led by the American Farm Bureau Federation is asking a federal district court in Texas to issue a nationwide stay blocking the Obama administration’s 2015 Waters of the U.S. rule. AFBF general counsel Ellen Steen says a stay is needed following a Supreme Court decision that ruled jurisdiction of the rule lies in federal district courts, not federal appeals courts, where a nationwide stay of the rule was issued in 2015.
Steen: Unless something happens fast, we’re at risk of having that national stay that was in place go away very soon, and the 2015 rule would go into effect and would regulate potentially countless landscape features on farms throughout the county.
Clements: Steen says the stay on the activation date of the 2015 rule would give the EPA time to reconsider and change the rule.
Steen: The current administration has an opportunity to decide whether to make a permanent change to the regulations. We’re hoping to just maintain status quo while the administration has a chance to go through a thoughtful process and come up with some rules that work.
Clements: The Environmental Protection Agency is also taking steps to delay the rule while the agency reconsiders the regulations. Steen says the parallel effort in the Texas court is needed because each step by the agency is being attacked in other courts.
Steen: There are other stakeholders out there that are fighting very hard to have the 2015 rule go into effect. They argue that it’s important to protect water quality and drinking water, and they use a lot of real emotional language about it. What it really is about is regulating more activities including ordinary farming activities.
Clements: Micheal Clements, Washington.