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Sean D. Reyes
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Federal Court Grants Motion on WOTUS

Court Finds that WOTUS Rule Likely Violates Commerce Clause and Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution   

SALT LAKE CITY – Today, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes announced that a U.S. District Court granted the Motion for Preliminary Injunction filed by Utah and ten other states, and blocked implementation of the 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule in those jurisdictions.  

The lawsuit, filed against the administrators of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in June 2015, challenged those agencies’ definition of WOTUS in the 2015 rule. In the controversial definition, “navigable waters” under federal control included traditionally state-regulated and smaller bodies of water, including roadside ditches, small ponds on farms, water features on golf courses, storm-water systems, and other small waterways like streams and wetlands. The coalition of states argued that this definition violated the Clean Water Act and the Administrative Procedure Act, as well as the Commerce Clause and Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.   

“We are encouraged that the federal district court has agreed with the merits of our challenge. The WOTUS Rule vastly and unnecessarily expands federal regulatory powers in a way that threatens the sovereignty of states, the liberty of citizens, and the viability of businesses. The Federal Government has no business regulating ponds in our backyards or the water hazards on every back nine,” said Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes. “I’m proud of the work Utah contributed to this case. This is a victory not only for our State, but for all who believe that the role of the federal government should be carefully limited and clearly defined.” 

In its order issued Friday evening, the U.S. District Court agreed that if the WOTUS Rule became effective, the States would suffer irreparable harm through both “a loss of sovereignty and unrecoverable monetary losses.”  The court concluded that blocking the WOTUS Rule also favors the public interest because it saves farmers, homeowners, and small businesses from having to “devote time and expense to obtain federal permits … to comply with a rule that is likely to be invalidated.” 

In addition to Utah, the 11-state coalition consists of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Kentucky.  

In light of the District Court’s order, and an earlier similar injunction granted by the U.S. District Court for North Dakota, two federal courts have now issued injunctions against the 2015 WOTUS Rule in 24 states.

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  1. You can find a copy of the order here:
  2. Here is a copy of the original filing: