Iowa gets injunction to halt federal water rules

Waters of the United States rule stalled in 28 states, according to Gov. Kim Reynolds's office

Two ducks swim in Willow Creek on Iowa City's west side Friday, March, 18, 2016. Parts of the creek go dry at different
Two ducks swim in Willow Creek on Iowa City’s west side Friday, March, 18, 2016. Parts of the creek go dry at different times of year, fitting the Iowa Department of Natural Resources definition of an intermittent stream. These type of seasonal streams feed public drinking water supplies. (Erin Jordan/The Gazette)

A federal judge on Tuesday said Iowa may join states that have an injunction halting implementation of the 2015 Waters of the United States rule.

In the order signed by Chief Judge Daniel Hovland, of the U.S. District Court of North Dakota, Iowa is allowed to enjoin injunction proceedings filed by 12 states and agencies in a 13th.

The Waters of the U.S. rule now is on hold in 28 states, Reynolds Spokeswoman Brenna Smith said Tuesday.

“I am pleased the court granted my request to halt the WOTUS Rule in Iowa,” Reynolds said in a prepared statement. “Now, Iowa farmers and small business owners will not be burdened by this federal overreach while we continue fighting to permanently end the WOTUS Rule.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers created the rule in 2015 in an attempt to clarify the Clean Water Act. The rule defines which are “waters of the United States” and subject to federal regulation, but many groups decried the rules as confusing and detrimental to business interests.

Amid a host of legal challenges, President Donald Trump suspended the Waters of the U.S. rule in January, the New York Times reported. But then in August a federal judge in South Carolina restored the rule in 26 states without injunctions. Reynolds asked the North Dakota court to allow Iowa to join litigation there to halt the rule’s implementation in Iowa.

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