EPA asked to suspend WOTUS enforcement until lawsuits resolved

EPA asked to suspend WOTUS enforcement until lawsuits resolved

EPA asked to hold off on Waters of the U.S. rule as 13 states granted preliminary injunction

The National Milk Producers Federation asked that the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers suspend enforcement of the new Waters of the U.S. regulation until legal complaints against it are resolved.

The request comes as the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota on Thursday granted a temporary injunction in favor of 13 states that brought suit in North Dakota against EPA and the Corps.

The EPA said after the court ruling that it would not implement the rule in the 13 states that were part of the suit – Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming – but would enforce it in remaining states.

EPA asked to hold off on Waters of the U.S. rule as 13 states granted preliminary injunction

However, NMPF said in a letter to the agencies that it makes sense to suspend the rule in all states.

NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern said that the EPA implementation schedule for the Clean Water Rule now treats dairy farmers differently nationwide, and clearly falls short of the EPA's goals of "greater clarity, consistency, and predictability" when making jurisdictional determinations.

"We ask that EPA and the Corps of Engineers use their enforcement discretion and cease application of the recent WOTUS rule in all 50 states, until such time as it can be evenly applied in every state," the letter said.

NMPF and several other farm groups submitted comments on the proposed rule to the EPA and Corps of Engineers in November 2014, outlining its concerns with the lack of clarity and certainty for farmers.

The final rule "left many of our concerns unresolved," NMPF wrote Monday.

"The opinion last Thursday by Judge Ralph Erickson brought forth many of the same concerns we relayed in our comments last November and should be taken seriously," NMPF wrote.

Related: Tax dollars and the Waters of the U.S.

NMPF's letter today said that the organization and its members "are committed to protecting U.S. waterways through voluntary efforts, as well as through regulatory compliance with the Clean Water Act."

Clean water is central to healthy ecosystems, secure water supplies for human and animal consumption, and to the production of milk and other dairy products, the group said.

"We are committed to working with the EPA and COE to find effective ways to achieve these important goals."

Several other lawsuits against the EPA, from other states and also from farm and business groups, are still pending.

Continued reading: Court confusion over Waters of the U.S.: wins and losses

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