A federal court in Texas has invalidated the 2015 Waters of the United States rule over small and isolated waters. After years of litigation in suits filed by dozens of state governments and trade groups, this is the first court to reach a final decision on the lawfulness of the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers’ 2015 expansion of federal jurisdiction.
The U.S. Court for the Southern District of Texas ruled that the agencies violated basic requirements of fair process when they concluded the 2015 rulemaking, without first releasing for comment a key report that was the basis for many of their most controversial decisions. The order came in response to suits by a group of 17 private-sector plaintiffs that included the American Farm Bureau Federation.
The groups challenged the 2015 WOTUS rule as unlawfully expanding federal jurisdiction at the expense of state and municipal authority and offending basic rules of fair process. Several other legal challenges to the 2015 rule remain pending in federal courts across the country.
The Trump administration has proposed to repeal the rule and issue a new regulation that better defines federal waters.