Court to hear case against Obama’s water rule

A Cincinnati-based federal appeals court ruled Monday that it has the jurisdiction to hear numerous consolidated challenges to the Obama administration’s contentious water pollution rule.

The Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit rejected calls from opponents of the regulation to dismiss their cases and allow them to first go to lower courts with their challenges to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) rule.

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Through the regulation, the EPA seeks to assert its authority under the Clean Water Act over small waterways like wetlands and headwaters, would could subject states and private landowners to new permitting requirements and restrictions.

Both chambers of Congress have voted to overturn the rule, dubbed the Clean Water Rule or “waters of the United States,” though President Obama vetoed the measures.

Judge David McKeague, writing for the court’s majority, said the trend in similar cases has been for circuit courts, not the lower district courts, to hear the challenges, and the Sixth Circuit was chosen as the court to consolidate them.

“Movants have failed to identify any particular circumstances or practical considerations that would justify holding that adjudication of the instant petitions for judicial review in the various district courts would better serve Congress’s purposes,” McKeague wrote.

“Instead, recognition of our authority and our duty to directly review the Clean Water Rule in this multi-circuit case is in all respects consonant with the governing case law and in furtherance of Congress’s purposes.”

The court did not set its schedule for hearing the case. The Sixth Circuit last year blocked implementation of the regulation while the litigation proceeds.

If numerous district courts were allowed to take up the lawsuits, they could issue mismatching rulings, which would expedite potential appeal to the Supreme Court.