In May, we covered the EPA’s Waters of the United States rule and just how far-reaching it is, and in August, the EPA decided that a federal injunction imposed in response to a suit filed by thirteen states didn’t apply nationally, stating that it applied only to those states that were parties in the case.  The EPA declared it would move forward with imposing the rule on the remaining fifty states.

Yesterday, the Sixth Circuit Court handed down its own ruling that blocked the waters rule nationwide.  The Hill reports:

In a 2-1 ruling, the Cincinnati-based Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit delivered a stinging defeat to Obama’s most ambitious effort to keep streams and wetlands clean, saying it looks likely that the rule, dubbed Waters of the United States, is illegal.

“We conclude that petitioners have demonstrated a substantial possibility of success on the merits of their claims,” the judges wrote in their decision, explaining that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new guidelines for determining whether water is subject to federal control — based mostly on the water’s distance and connection to larger water bodies — is “at odds” with a key Supreme Court ruling.

The decision expands a stay that a North Dakota judge imposed in August, the day before the rule took effect, and that only applied to 13 states.

Apparently, the EPA is being forced to respect this decision (for now).  The Hill continues:

The EPA said it will respect the court’s decision, but it believes the rule is legal and necessary.

“The agencies respect the court’s decision to allow for more deliberate consideration of the issues in the case and we look forward to litigating the merits of the Clean Water Rule,” EPA spokeswoman Melissa Harrison said.

This isn’t, however, the final word on the Obama EPA’s waters rule.  After all, “the court still needs to go through the process of making a full ruling on it. After that, it can be appealed up to the Supreme Court.” For now, though, this is a welcome victory for conservatives who see this rule as an unprecedented—and unlawful—power grab.

The Wall Street Journal reports that “Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, one of the challengers, said the court order ‘is certainly a win for Oklahoma, but the legal fight moves forward as we work diligently to roll back this unlawful rule.” He said the regulation “is a devastating blow to private property rights and is an unlawful power grab by the EPA.’”

Watch the following report on the Obama EPA’s waters rules, described as “the road to economic and regulatory hell”:


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