May 3, 2016

PLF to National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners: “Yes, the WOTUS rule is as bad as it seems—in fact, it’s probably worse.”

By PLF to National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners: “Yes, the WOTUS rule is as bad as it seems—in fact, it’s probably worse.”
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Does this look like a “water of the United States” to you?

Over the last two years since it was proposed, the “waters of the United States” or “WOTUS rule” has ruffled more than a few feathers. As soon as the rule was published for comment, industry groups, local governments, and others affected by the rule all prepared to voice their concerns and defend their interests against the WOTUS rule’s call for a drastic expansion of federal regulatory jurisdiction.

Since then, debate over the controversial rule has persisted—in the public, in Washington D.C., and in the courts. Accordingly, more people have heard about the rule and begun to wonder what it might mean to them, their employees, customers, and families. Recently, in response to these worries, the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners asked PLF to weigh in and let them know if the WOTUS rule really is as bad as it seems. Our answer, which won’t surprise readers of the Liberty Blog, was that it is indeed as bad as it seems—in fact, it’s probably worse.

In our letter to the Commissioners, we confirmed their suspicions that the WOTUS Rule is an unconstitutional expansion of federal regulatory jurisdiction; that it will severely burden landowners, businesses, and local governments with onerous permitting requirements (not to mention extortionate demands by bullying enforcement agencies); and that the rule’s public comment period failed to give the public an idea of what the agencies actually had in store.

Our letter is available here. We hope the National Association of Regulatory Utility
Commissioners finds it persuasive and decides to join PLF and the numerous other concerned groups and individuals who have publicly denounced the WOTUS rule.

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Waters of the United States

In 2015 PLF challenged the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule to stretch federal control to nearly every pond, ditch, and puddle in the nation as nothing more than an outrageous—and illegal—power grab under cover of the Clean Water Act. And under the Act, people who are harmed by such rules have six years to sue in federal district court. That is, until the EPA rewrote the rule, trying to prevent legal action by giving property owners just 120 days to sue, and then only in federal appellate courts. On January 22, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the EPA’s power play and unanimously ruled for PLF and property rights. The High Court agreed with PLF that the EPA cannot shelter its “waters of the United States” rule from judicial review by arbitrarily limiting where victims can sue.

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