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on January 26, 2018

Supreme Court rules on proper court to hear challenges to "Waters of the US"

The Supreme Court issued a ruling on Jan. 24 that sided with a 14 member coalition, that included USPOULTRY, on which court has jurisdiction over hearing challenges to “Waters of the US” determinations by the Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Shortly after finalizing the “Waters of the US” Rule in May of 2015, industry groups and a number of states filed multiple lawsuits against EPA challenging the regulation. These lawsuits were filed in numerous federal district courts across the United States.

EPA took a different position, arguing that legal challenges should be heard at the higher federal appeals court level. The Supreme Court disagreed and ruled unanimously against EPA’s claim that federal appeals courts should hold original jurisdiction over challenges to the 2015 Rule.

This ruling will clear the way for states, organizations and property owners to proceed with their lawsuits that claim the process to finalize the “Waters of the US” rule was flawed and failed to give the regulated public the opportunity to have a voice in the rulemaking process. While the Supreme Court’s ruling will reverse the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals assertion of jurisdiction and end the current stay that is keeping the rule from going into effect, the current administration has initiated the process to rescind the 2015 “Waters of the US” Rule. 

“We are pleased the Supreme Court recognized the federal district courts are the appropriate venue for stakeholders in the poultry and egg industry to challenge the “Waters of the US” rule. Settling this jurisdictional issue is an important first step that clears up confusion on where to resolve disputes and provides certainty for all property owners if they are compelled to challenge a “Waters of the US” determination on their farm,” commented John Starkey, USPOULTRY president.

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