Federal Court Rules USDA Violated APA When It Changed Agency Policy on Agricultural Wetlands Maps

In a lawsuit brought by the National Wildlife Federation, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) when it changed agency policy regarding the certification of agricultural wetland delineation maps in a rule finalized in 2020. The court vacated the final rule, rejecting USDA’s defense that the rule “clarified” agency policy rather than changing it. Because the court found that the rule violated the APA, it did not consider Plaintiff’s additional arguments that the rule also violated the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.