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Supreme Court to consider Waters of the US rule
January 24, 2017

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to take up the dispute over which lower courts have jurisdiction to hear challenges to the Obama administration's Clean Water Rule.

E&E News reported that justices granted an industry petition asking the court to reconsider the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision to hear legal challenges over the rule, which is also known as Waters of the U.S.(WOTUS).

The rule from the U.S. EPA-Army Corps of Engineers redefines which waterways and wetlands receive automatic protection under the Clean Water Act. It is being challenged by more than 30 states and numerous industry and farm groups.

In February, the Ohio-based 6th Circuit ruled 2-1 that it had jurisdiction to hear the challenges. The 6th Circuit also issued a nationwide stay of the rule pending the resolution of the litigation.

The National Association of Manufacturers, with the support of 31 states, petitioned the Supreme Court to reconsider the 6th Circuit's jurisdiction decision. It argued the litigation belongs in local district courts.

The decision by the Supreme Court to review the 6th Circuit decision is a big setback for the Obama administration, which has sought to keep the litigation in the appellate court and avoid fights in district courts that might be more sympathetic to challengers of the rule.

The fate of the litigation remains murky, though, given that President-elect Donald Trump will likely take steps to eliminate the rule. EPA had been scheduled to file its initial merits brief in the appeals court case two days before Trump's Jan. 20 inauguration.

 

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