Supreme Court or Federal Courts for WOTUS?


The pork industry and other ag interests argued before the Supreme Court that now possibly moot lawsuits over the Obama administration Waters of the U.S. rule, should be handled at the federal district court level, not before an appellate court.

The National Pork Producers Council and dozens of other ag groups in oral arguments before the high court, say the 2015 WOTUS rule put on hold by the US 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Ohio a year ago, should be heard in US district court.

Pork Producers’ spokesman Dave Warner…

“Those courts are dealing with more local issues, like somebody trying to get a permit; a wetlands permit, so we think they should be heard at a district court level, rather than brought to an appellate court far away from where the permit is being sought.”                

But Warner admits, the whole issue of court jurisdiction may be moot…

“The administration has indicated that it is going to rescind the existing WOTUS rule, which came out in August 2015, which has been, obviously put on hold by the courts, since then.”                   

The Trump order to the Environmental Protection Agency proposes to work with stakeholders on a rule that still protects waterways, but is more workable for pork producers and others…

“First of all, a lot of them are also crop farmers, but all of them use their manure, or sell their manure to people who put that manure on crop land as fertilizer.  It replaces man-made fertilizer.”

But if that manure is put in a gully, Warner says objectors could argue a permit’s required, since the original WOTUS expanded EPA jurisdiction to upstream waters and intermittent streams and ditches that farmers may use for drainage and irrigation.

The EPA and Army Corps are now taking oral public comments and will take written comments up to November 28th.

A native of the Texas Panhandle, Rhonda was born and raised on a cotton farm where she saw cotton farming evolve from ditch irrigation to center pivot irrigation and harvest trailers to modules. After graduating from Texas Tech University, she got her start in radio with KGNC News Talk 710 in Amarillo, Texas.