WASHINGTON, Oct. 11, 2017 - Where should challenges to the next version of the Clean Water Rule, aka “waters of the U.S.,” be heard – district courts or appellate courts? That’s the question faced by the Supreme Court in arguments today. The answer will determine how complicated future litigation becomes, since there are 94 judicial districts around the country but only 12 circuit courts of appeals. The federal government, backed by the Natural Resources Defense Council and National Wildlife Federation, says the court should support the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals and favor the appellate court as the venue. But the National Association of Manufacturers, American Farm Bureau Federation and other farm groups, environmental groups and more than two dozen states all argue that the language in the Clean Water Act requires that challenges to WOTUS should go before district court judges. If the Supreme Court agrees, but the current administration’s WOTUS repeal effort is not completed by the time the court issues its ruling, then the status of the 6th Circuit’s two-year-old stay of WOTUS will be an open question.
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