Attorney General Ken Paxton today announced that his office won a major court victory to hold unlawful the Obama-era Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, which attempted to expand the reach of the federal Clean Water Act in a way that would harm Texans and the Texas economy. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas granted Texas’ motion for summary judgment in the case, sending the rule back to the Trump administration to proceed with repealing and replacing the WOTUS rule.
“This critical federal court decision is a major victory for the people of Texas’ ability to regulate their own natural resources, including ponds, puddles and streams on private property, and a major win for property owners, whose land would have been subject to unlawful and impractical EPA regulations,” Attorney General Paxton said. “I’m proud to have led a multistate coalition lawsuit challenging WOTUS. My office will always stand up for the rule of law and states’ rights.”
The district court previously enjoined the rule’s effect in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi—joining district courts in North Dakota and Georgia that also entered injunctions in 24 states before those courts—and this injunction will remain in place. Last August, a district court in South Carolina overturned President Trump’s effort to delay the effectiveness of the WOTUS rule nationwide while the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency continues its efforts to prepare a replacement rule.
In 2015, Attorney General Paxton was part of a multistate coalition lawsuit that won a nationwide stay against WOTUS in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, preventing the federal government from taking control of ponds, streams and puddles of Texas property owners. The Supreme Court later overturned that injunction for procedural reasons.
One of President Trump’s first actions in office was an executive order directing the EPA to begin the process of eliminating the WOTUS rule. At the time, he characterized the rule as “one of the worst examples of federal regulation.”
View a copy of the U.S. District Court’s decision here.