The Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule was reinstated by a Washington state federal judge last week.
According to a report in the Capital Press, Judge John Coughenour of the District for Western Washington ruled the Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers made a “serious procedural error” by reinstating the pre-2015 WOTUS.
Earlier this year the agencies took comment on delaying the Obama administration’s definition of WOTUS until February 2020. However, the agencies did not take comments on the substance of the pre-2015 rule, which Coughenour ruled had the practical effect of changing the WOTUS rule without public comment, a violation of the Administrative Procedures Act.
Coughenour said his ruling vacates the pre-2015 WOTUS rule nationwide. A similar ruling was made in August by a South Carolina judge that prohibited the Trump administration from delaying implementing the Obama WOTUS rule. In a footnote, Coughenour distinguished his ruling by saying it expressly vacates the pre-2015 rule.