Montana Attorney General Tim Fox is praising a U.S. Supreme Court decision that allows legal challenges to the Obama Administration's Waters of the United States, or WOTUS - rule to continue.
Eric Sell is with the Montana Department of Justice.
“This is a big victory for the state of Montana, it’s a big victory for the rule of law and now this will allow the process to the legal challenges of unlawful acts by the Obama Administration to go forward,” he said.
The Court’s ruling today means lawsuits disputing the rule will proceed through federal district courts instead of federal circuit courts of appeal.
WOTUS clarified what types of water bodies are applicable under the regulations of the Clean Water Act, so-called “navigable waters.”
In 2015, a 13-state coalition, including Montana, filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the legality of the rule adopted by the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Last February, President Trump issued an executive order to re-evaluate WOTUS, beginning what many saw as a repeal of the rule.
Derf Johnson is the Water Program Director with the Montana Environmental Information Center.
He says today’s ruling makes sense, but cautions that an eventual repeal of WOTUS will be a setback for the state’s water resources.
“I think it puts us in a position where we don’t have as great of a deal of protections for clean water in Montana,” Johnson said.
Montana’s case will now move forward to a Federal District Court Judge in North Dakota.