BISMARCK, ND. – A federal judge at the US District Court in North Dakota granted a preliminary injunction for 24 states regarding the new Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rules recently implemented by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers.

A separate judge granted an injunction for Idaho and Texas on the WOTUS matter in late March.  

In the last few months, states and industry groups continued to argue that the recent WOTUS rules were federal overreach and would hurt the agricultural economy.

With his 45-page opinion, US District Judge Daniel L. Hovland concurred with what many groups have pushed for since the beginning of the year.

“The 2023 Rule does cause injury to states because they are the direct object of its requirements,” Hovland wrote. “And the states are also landowners with direct obligations under the Clean Water Act. There is not a mere possibility the new regulations will impact the states - it is a given.”

The ruling stops the new definition from being implemented in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Early in January 2023, the Biden administration announced the final WOTUS rule, which it said restored essential water protection that was in place before the 2015 Clean Water Act (CWA).

Agriculture groups, including the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), continued to call on the courts for a national injunction and praised the judge for the latest step.

“Once again, the courts have affirmed that the Biden Administration’s WOTUS rule is overreaching and harmful to America’s beef farmers and ranchers,” said Todd Wilkinson, president of the NCBA. “Cattle producers in 26 states now have some additional certainty while this rule is being litigated and we are optimistic that the Supreme Court will provide nationwide clarity on the federal government’s proper jurisdiction over water.”

The US Supreme Court is expected to provide a ruling on the upcoming Sackett v. EPA, which expects to provide some clarity for the case.

“Common sense dictates that it only makes sense to wait,” Hovland wrote. “There is no urgency to implement the 2023 Rule. The Supreme Court’s decision in Sackett will be issued by June 2023 and will likely address many of the unresolved legal issues and jurisdictional determinations at the heart of this lawsuit.”