TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — A federal appeals court has blocked an Obama administration rule that attempts to clarify which small streams, wetlands and other waterways the government can shield from pollution and development.
In a 2-1 ruling Friday, a panel of the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati put the regulations on hold until the court decides whether it has jurisdiction to hear challenges to the rules by 18 states.
The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued the regulations in May after two Supreme Court rulings left uncertain which waterways can be protected under the Clean Water Act.
States challenging the rules say they go too far and could be costly to landowners, while the government says they would safeguard drinking water for 117 million Americans.
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt welcomed the court’s decision:
“The court today agreed with us that this rule should be put on hold until a final determination has been made as to whether the EPA had the authority to issue this regulation,” Schmidt said. “We will continue our fight to ask the courts to permanently block the WOTUS rule, which is a clear overreach of federal authority. For now, Kansas farmers and ranchers and others affected by this regulatory change can take comfort in knowing the new regulations are not in effect.”
Governor Sam Brownback responded,
“I was pleased to learn of this morning’s decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals staying nationwide enforcement of EPA’s ‘Waters of the United States’ rule. My administration has opposed this onerous, overreaching federal rule since it was first proposed. This rule intruded into state jurisdiction over water quality and significantly expanded EPA’s regulatory power. We will continue our fight to make certain that the Obama administration does not bring back this rule, and to protect the rights of Kansas landowners and businesses.”