The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit issued a stay of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water Rule nationwide Friday, stopping the regulation in its tracks for the time being.
A 2-1 decision by the Cincinnati-based court will keep the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from implementing the rule while the court determines if it has jurisdiction to decide if the rule is a legal use of federal power.
The EPA says the rule would protect streams and wetlands that impact water quality and would more precisely define waters protected by the Clean Water Act. But ranchers, farmers and states argue it gives the federal agency unprecedented authority over drainage ditches and nearly anything else that can contain water.
“The sheer breadth of the ripple effects caused by the rule’s definitional changes counsels strongly in favor of maintaining the status quo for the time being,” the decision states.
The court said the stay would temporarily silence “the whirlwind of confusion that springs from uncertainty about the requirements of the new rule and whether they will survive legal testing.”
The definitions of “navigable waters” and “Waters of the United States” have been made uncertain by a series of U.S. Supreme Court rulings over the years, the court wrote. The rule would seek to make the rules clearer and the judges stated they are in favor of the intent, but need more time to analyze if the decision constitutes federal overreach.