Attorneys general from 13 states filed a motion, Aug. 10, for preliminary injunction in their Waters of the United States (WOTUS) lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The injunction request seeks to block implementation of the WOTUS rule, scheduled to go into effect Aug. 28.
The motion follows a July 30 letter to EPA, signed by attorneys general and officials from 30 states asking EPA to delay implementation of the rule for nine months, giving courts time to review pending legal challenges to the rule.
On June 29, 13 states filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota, asking the court to vacate the rule and bar the EPA and the Corps from enforcing the new definition. Several other states filed lawsuits in their respective regions.
The states contended the new definition of WOTUS violated provisions of the Clean Water Act (CWA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and the United States Constitution.
The states claim EPA’s new rule wrongly broadens federal authority by placing the management of a majority of water and land resources in the hands of the federal government, when Congress and the courts have repeatedly affirmed states have primary responsibility for the protection of intrastate waters and land management.
“The EPA and Corps of Engineer’s failure to timely respond to the states’ request to delay the implementation of the rule has unfortunately necessitated the need to seek further court intervention,” said South Dakota Attorney General Jackley. "Our concerns continue to be that these agencies are overstepping their Congressional authority and that our state will be losing considerable decision-making control over our waters and land use. The new rule is creating uncertainty for our agriculture and business community that needs to have fairness and a degree of common sense in federal regulation."
“We are simply asking the court to preserve the status quo while this case is pending,” said Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster. “If the rule goes into effect before adequate judicial review, thousands of acres of privately owned land in Missouri will be subject to federal water regulation. Missouri farmers will be particularly harmed by the federal government’s restrictions on how their land can be used.”
“A federal rule of this scope and significance needs thorough judicial review before costly and disruptive burdens are imposed on North Dakotans,” said North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem. “The rule is unnecessary, unlawful, and will do nothing to increase water quality in our state.”