Agency Claims ND Injunction Won't Apply to Texas
By Jessica Domel, Field Editor
A cloud of uncertainty remains as to whether Texas landowners will have to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Waters of the United States (WOTUS) requirements that were set to take effect today (Aug. 28).
The confusion stems from a North Dakota judge's opinion yesterday (Aug. 27) that essentially blocks the WOTUS rule.
Some say the rule applies to the entire country while the EPA insists it only applies to those 13 states included in the North Dakota suit, which does not include Texas.
"The preliminary injunction was against the rule, so you would assume that would apply to all the states; however, the EPA is saying that no, it's too important," said Texas Farm Bureau Director of Government Affairs Regan Beck.
WOTUS effectively gives the EPA regulatory authority over areas of land that only sometimes hold water, ephemeral streams, ditches and low-lying areas, by claiming the area could eventually connect to a larger waterway.
By threatening fines for these EPA controlled areas; the EPA could effectively decide who farms and how they do it.
"This could mean that almost every farmer has to be permitted to farm," Beck said. "This is a huge federal overreach and a battle worth fighting to try to protect our rights because we are really going down the wrong path of having greater federal control over our lives, property and farming."
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has challenged EPA's WOTUS ruling as has the American Farm Bureau, Texas Farm Bureau and Matagorda County Farm Bureau, who filed suit in Galveston District Court to oppose these rules.
Lawsuits have been filed in a number of District Courts and Appeals Courts across the nation. All of the Appeals Court cases have consolidated into the 6th Circuit located in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Justices in the 6th Circuit will rule on who has original jurisdiction in these cases, either the District Courts or the Appeals Courts.
Texas Farm Bureau will continue to push back against the rule on behalf of its members. The organization is fighting to keep the case in Texas as other similar cases across the nation are consolidated.
"We think we have a favorable venue in Texas for the ultimate decision of whether this rule is valid. And, in the long run, that is the most important issue to be decided," said Beck.
As the legal battle continues, watch for updates from Texas Farm Bureau on its website, TexasFarmBureau.org.