Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers asked a federal judicial panel to consolidate the numerous lawsuits that recently have been filed against them over the “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule, which is supposed to clarify the agencies’ authority under the Clean Water Act over various waters.
The National Pork Producers Council and 13 other organizations July 2 filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, asking the court to vacate the regulation they said will bring under federal jurisdiction “a staggering range” of land and water and adversely affect numerous agricultural and business activities. Similar lawsuits have been filed – mostly in federal district courts – by the attorneys general of 27 states.
In all, 72 plaintiffs have filed 10 separate complaints in eight federal district courts, challenging the final rule. EPA and the Corps of Engineers are asking the federal Judicial Panel on Multi-District Litigation to consolidate the cases in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
The agencies also asked the judicial panel to consolidate WOTUS lawsuits filed in U.S. appellate courts in a single circuit. If the panel agrees, it will randomly select one circuit court of appeals to consider the cases.