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Texas Judge Grants Injunction Against Biden’s ‘Waters of the United States’ Rule in Texas, Idaho

A federal judge in Texas has granted a preliminary injunction against the Biden administration’s “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule in Texas, following a lawsuit by the state’s Attorney General, Ken Paxton.

The ruling halts the implementation of the revised definition of WOTUS by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers outside territorial seas and intrastate waters, which expands their regulatory power beyond “navigable waters” as defined by Congress under the Clean Water Act of 1972. The revised rule would grant federal jurisdiction over isolated wetlands, lakes, streams, and off-channel reservoirs, and allow expensive permitting processes enforced on state-managed infrastructure such as energy, agriculture, and transportation.

According to the court documents, the new WOTUS rule aims at “vastly expanding the federal government’s regulatory power to include much of America’s waters, despite Congress expressly narrowing federal authority to only ‘navigable waters'”.

The ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey Vincent Brown halts the new rule, which was set to take effect on March 20th, 2023, and applies to both Texas and Idaho. The injunction will remain in place until further orders from the court. At least 25 other states are challenging the rule in federal courts in North Dakota and Kentucky, but no preliminary injunctions have been issued yet in those cases.

The new definition of WOTUS has been controversial, with Paxton saying the rule “seeks to grow federal administrative power by expanding limits of their own jurisdiction far beyond what Congress delegated to them”. Nevertheless, the EPA website claims the rule “ensures critical protections for the nation’s vital water resources, which support public health, environmental protection, agricultural activity, and economic growth across the United States”.

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