At least three separate lawsuits have been filed by state attorney generals asking federal courts to strike down the rule that is commonly referred to as the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule scheduled to be implemented by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The claim is that the rule would extend the EPA and Corps regulatory reach tremendously by allowing regulation under the Clean Water Act of areas where water is found only a few months out of year such as roadside ditches and field waterways as well as regulation of small bodies of water including farm ponds. The claim also is that any work by farmers that might alter water flow on their property in any manner might be subject to extensive paperwork for permitting.
The EPA claims the rule was issued to bring clarity to the terminology and specifics of where the Clean Water Act pertains, including private property. But those state officials filing suit on behalf of their constituencies see the rule as a tremendous overreach of authority by the EPA. The rule has not gone into force yet, and the lawsuits are asking for it to be declared illegal and or an injunction against it ever going into effect in its current form.
At last count, 13 states joined into a lawsuit filed Monday in North Dakota district court and the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Those states were Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.
Another lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia, the attorney generals of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, South Carolina, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin filed that lawsuit. Word was that yet another lawsuit was being filed by Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana separate from the first two.
It is interesting to note that the lawsuits are crossing regional lines with northern states joining southern states, etc.
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster summed up the whole complaint against the rule. He reportedly said, “The EPA and Army Corps have exceeded their legal authority in defining what constitutes U.S. waterways. If this change becomes law, thousands of acres of privately owned land in Missouri will suddenly be subject to federal water regulation.”