Court Sides With McCrory Administration to Block Federal Overreach That Would Hurt Farmers and Economic Development

Raleigh, N.C.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit today put on hold the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) rule redefining Waters of the United States, or WOTUS. The new definition of the rule would harm farmers and economic development by greatly expanding jurisdiction over waters never previously regulated by the federal government. Today’s ruling was based on the likelihood that the petitioning states would succeed in court and suspends the federal government’s ability to enforce the redefined rule in all 50 states.
“We are pleased the court recognizes that this federal rule would harm North Carolina’s farmers and stifle economic development, and has decided to prevent the federal government from enforcing it until a final ruling is made,” said Governor Pat McCrory. “The future of North Carolina’s waters must continue to stay in North Carolina’s hands and not in Washington, D.C.”
The judge’s decision concluded that the “petitioners have demonstrated the substantial possibility of success on the merits of their claims.” In reaching this conclusion, the court questioned whether the public was given reasonable notice about specifics of the rule and determined the EPA did not present “specific scientific support” for some of the rule’s provisions.
“North Carolina has cleared the first hurdle in preventing the federal government from imposing excessive, unnecessary regulations on the state’s agricultural industry and land development,” said Secretary of Environmental Quality Donald van der Vaart. “Many of North Carolina’s water quality programs go beyond federal requirements and have contributed to steady water quality improvement throughout the state. There is no reason for the federal government to usurp a state’s regulatory authority, especially given our strong record of environmental protection, or intrude on the rights of private property owners.”
The McCrory Administration, along with 29 other states that filed legal complaints against the rule, insists the new definition is an illegal act of federal overreach. The complaints allege that the rule is unconstitutional and represents the latest effort by the federal government to expand its authority and control over the daily lives of American citizens. The McCrory Administration asserts the proposed redefinition may place enormous swaths of land in North Carolina under federal jurisdiction and unnecessarily stifle economic growth and prosperity with little, if any, environmental benefit.

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