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North Dakotans welcome court action on WOTUS

North Dakota farm groups and political leaders applauded court action Friday that temporarily blocks implementation of the controversial Waters of the United States, or WOTUS, rule.

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Agweek

North Dakota farm groups and political leaders applauded court action Friday that temporarily blocks implementation of the controversial Waters of the United States, or WOTUS, rule.

“This ruling only re-enforces what Farm Bureau and others have been saying all along: This interpretation of the Clean Water Act by an out of control EPA is bad for America, not just agriculture,” Pete Hanebutt, North Dakota Farm Bureau director of public policy, said in a written statement. “If the EPA had its way, state and local government would be under the gun, just like property owners, and it’s great to see.”

In August, U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Erickson in Fargo issued a preliminary injunction blocking WOTUS in North Dakota and 12 other states that challenged the rule.

On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit granted a nationwide stay against the rule, which seeks to clarify the bodies of water covered by the Clean Water Act. Though finalized by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in May, the rule  faces political and legal opposition.

Friday’s decision is “great news for America’s farmers and ranchers,” but federal legislation is needed, Chip Bowling, president of the National Corn Growers Association and a farmer from Newburg, Maryland, said in a statement.

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He wants the U.S. Senate to pass the Federal Water Quality Protection Act, “which would stop WOTUS and give the EPA, the Army Corps (of Engineers), farmers, and other stakeholders the chance to work together on a better rule that we can all support.”

North Dakota’s Congressional delegation issued statements praising Friday’s court ruling.

“Today’s court ruling is a big win and builds on the U.S. District Court for North Dakota’s finding that the EPA’s Waters of the U.S. rule may be an unconstitutional regulatory overreach,” said Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.  “This blocks implementation of this rule nationwide while litigation continues.”

Hoeven said he has been working to eliminate WOTUS regulation through the appropriation process. He has also joined a bipartisan group of farm-state colleagues to reintroduce legislation that would rescind the proposed regulation and require the EPA to start the process over with more input from stakeholders.

Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said: “The Sixth Circuit’s decision to issue a nationwide injunction ensures landowners, farmers and ranchers as well as energy workers throughout the country are spared the devastating consequences of this Rule.”

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., said: “Today’s court decision to follow North Dakota’s lead by providing relief from this unworkable rule for the rest of the country’s producers is an important step, but it’s not enough. Congress must act to deliver the predictability our farmers, ranchers and small businesses depend on by passing my bipartisan bill to send this overbroad rule back to the Administration to redo – this time with the concerns of the rural communities it impacts in mind.”

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