Beef Buzz News
NCBA Hopeful the Supreme Court Will Provide Clarity on What is a WOTUS
Thu, 09 Jun 2022 10:23:33 CDT
While the Biden Administration's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is pushing forward with its ideas on a new WOTUS rule, the Supreme Court is likely to decide exactly how WOTUS should be interpreted. Senior Farm and Ranch Broadcaster, Ron Hays, is back with Environmental Counsel for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, Mary Thomas Hart, talking more about the Supreme Court taking another look at the definition of Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS).
Listen to Ron Hays and Mary Thomas Hart on the Supreme Court's Interpretation of WOTUS
Hart said the Supreme Court will consider which test from the Rapanos v. United States case, the last big Clean Water Act case, should be used by Federal courts and agencies across the country.
"Usually, when we get a decision from the Supreme Court, Federal courts and agencies are able to fairly easily interpret it and write rules to implement that decision," Hart said. "In this really unique case, the Supreme Court had a four-one-four decision, which means that there wasn't a majority opinion," Hart said.
There were two conflicting tests for determining jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act, Hart said, and Federal courts across the country have gone back and forth in an attempt to combine the two tests to effectively implement the Rapanos decision.
"I think after nearly 15 years of confusion, we are going to get an answer from the Supreme Court on which test actually needs to be used," Hart said.
In 2006, Justice Scalia articulated a bright-line rule holding that WOTUS includes only relatively permanent standing or continuously flowing bodies of water. Justice Kennedy said it should be a significant nexus on a case-by-case basis to decide whether a water feature is a WOTUS or not.
Americans in the agriculture industry are hoping the Supreme Court of today will clear this up. Justice Kennedy and Scalia are no longer on the court. In fact, today's Supreme Court looks much different.
"The two conflicting opinions were written by Justices Scalia and Kennedy," Hart said. "Neither of which are still on the bench.
For the most part, Hart said we have a new slate of Justices to consider this case compared to the bench that determined the Rapanos opinion.
"I think there are only three justices still on the bench that were on the bench for the Rapanos case," Hart said. "It is certainly a new slate, and we are excited to write briefs to the Supreme Court because a lot of them are hearing these arguments for the first time."
The decision made by the Supreme Court will decide how Americans can run their operation in the most effective way when it comes to any sort of water on their property.
"It is important to highlight that the Clean Water Act was designed and written to regulate water," Hart said. "That is all we want to do is make sure that EPA's regulation under the Clean Water Act sticks to bodies of water that were intended to be regulated when congress wrote the Clean Water Act."
Hart said the 2015 Obama WOTUS definition went far beyond the initial intentions for the Clean Water Act.
"It regulated dry areas that only carried water after a precipitation event, or really isolated wetlands or isolated stock ponds that had no connection to downstream water quality," Hart said. "We are not trying to eliminate the Clean Water Act here; we just want to make sure that EPA stays within the confines of the law."
Click the LISTEN BAR below to listen to Ron Hays and Mary Thomas Hart talk about the focus of redefining WOTUS.
The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Network and is a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR below for today's show and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.
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