Supreme Court sends water rule to district courts

The seasonal Waikoloa stream runs through the Waimea Nature Park in Kamuela, Hawaii is protected under the WOTUS rule. ©Rosa Say

On Jan. 22, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that challenges to the Clean Water Rule should be heard in federal district courts rather than in federal appeals courts.

The Obama-era rule, known as the Waters of the United States or WOTUS rule, sought to clarify and expand which “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) are protected under the Clean Water Act. The scope of the rule was swiftly challenged in both district and appeals courts, prompting debate over which courts had jurisdiction.

Several environmental groups and many states had hoped to see the case sent to district courts. The Trump administration, which is currently trying to repeal and replace the rule with a version that protects fewer waters, had argued for appeal courts to have jurisdiction citing efficiency reasons.

To read more about the ruling, visit Jurist.