Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals stays WOTUS
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October 09, 2015
Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals stays WOTUS

Today, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (Court) issued a stay nationwide against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) from enforcing the revised definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS), also known as the Clean Water Rule.

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This is a win for the 18 states that petitioned the Court that the Clean Water Rule went beyond the EPA and USACE’s regulatory jurisdiction and “altered the existing balance of federal-state collaboration.” The petitioners further contended that the new WOTUS definition was inconsistent with U.S. Supreme Court precedent (Riverside Bayview Homes, SWANCC, and Rapanos) and failed to conform to the requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act. The stay will remain in place until further order from the Court.

The Court held that the stay is proper and allows for “a more deliberate determination” as to whether WOTUS was a proper exercise of executive power enabled by Congress and federal law. Additionally, the Court acknowledged the states’ concern over cooperative federalism and their shared responsibilities under the Clean Water Act. The Court reasoned that a stay “temporarily silences the whirlwind of confusion” of WOTUS and whether the final rule can withstand legal challenges.

The stay parallels the recent decision by the District Court of North Dakota that preliminarily enjoined 13 states from complying with the new rule.

The decision can be read here.

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