Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Half the states are suing EPA over its new Clean Water Act rule defining 'waters of the U.S.'

On Monday 16 states filed lawsuits against the Environmental Protection Agency over its Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rules, Pam Maclean reports for Reuters. Nine more said today they were also going to court.

"The actions are a coordinated challenge to an EPA rule issued on May 27 that defines the jurisdiction of the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over rivers, streams, lakes or marshes. It was meant to clarify which waters are protected by the anti-pollution provisions of the 1972 Clean Water Act," Maclean reports.

In one lawsuit, Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana asked a federal court in Houston to declare the rule unconstitutional, calling it an "impermissible expansion of federal power over the states," Maclean writes. Thirteen other states—Nevada, North Dakota, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming—filed in federal court in North Dakota.

West Virginia, Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Kansas, South Carolina, Utah and Wisconsin sued today in the Southern District of Georgia. The nine states joining said in a joint statement: "This case involves an attempt by two agencies of the federal government to usurp the States’ primary responsibility for the management, protection, and care of intrastate waters and lands. The federal agencies’ assertion of authority should be vacated and enjoined because it violates the Clean Water Act, the Administrative Procedure Act, and the Constitution."

The rule "would extend federal jurisdiction over tributaries that may be natural, man-altered or man-made, including canals and ditches, said the complaint filed in Texas," Maclean writes. "The rule fails to account for duration of water flow, suggesting federal agencies can assert jurisdiction over 'dry ponds, ephemeral streams, intermittent channels and even ditches,' the Texas lawsuit claims.

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