A Cincinnati-based federal court recently put a hold on the federal EPA’s controversial “Waters of the United States” rule that would have put farm ponds, drainage ditches, and similar waters, by no means navigable, under its rule, constituting a huge expansion of EPA authority at the expense of states’ sovereignty and property owners’ rights.
Applying EPA’s interpretation, the agency defines waters of the United States so broadly that they could regulate virtually any wet or potentially wet spot, including drainage ditches, seasonal streams, puddle-like depressions, and even large dry areas adjacent to each waterway that they and the Army Corps of Engineers determine to have a “significant effect” on downstream waters.
Such “buffer” area influences could be aggregated over thousands of square miles. Any water with a “nexus” conceivably connecting with navigable river would be subject to EPA regulatory authority.
Or as Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton concludes, the EPA definition of “navigable waters” will “include almost any piece of land that gets wet and puddles.”
The stay is a start, anyway. Next need is for the courts to quash the WOTUS ruling completely.