JUN 30, 2015

Attorney General Alan Wilson Joins Lawsuit Against EPA’s “Waters of the US” Rule

Attorney General Alan Wilson Joins Lawsuit Against EPA

Twenty-seven states now challenging “Waters of the US” Rule

(COLUMBIA, S.C.)  —  Attorney General Alan Wilson today announced he has joined eight other state Attorneys General in a lawsuit filed today in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia. The lawsuit asks the court to strike down a new rule from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that unlawfully expands the federal government’s regulatory reach over local streams, lands and farms.

The rule, known generally as the “Waters of the United States” rule, would extend the EPA and Corps of Engineers’ regulatory reach to an untold number of small bodies of water, including roadside ditches and short-lived streams or any other area where the agencies believe water may flow once every 100 years.

“The results of this rule will carry a tremendous cost to our state, our economy, and our families. Road project mitigation costs alone could range from $180,000 to $2.8 million or fines of $37,000 per day. The EPA’s proposed expansion would bring many roadside ditches, small ponds on family farms, water features on golf courses, and storm water systems under extremely burdensome federal regulation. We need more reliable, affordable energy options, not less reliable and more costly ones,” said Attorney General Wilson.

In the complaint filed June 30, 2015 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia, the Attorneys General of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, South Carolina, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin argue the final rule put forward by the EPA and Corps of Engineers violates the Clean Water Act, the Administrative Procedure Act and the U.S. Constitution, and usurps the States’ primary responsibility for the management, protection and care of intrastate waters and lands.

While the Clean Water Act gave the EPA and Corps authority to regulate “navigable waters” – defined as “Waters of the United States” – Congress made sure that states would retain their constitutional, sovereign responsibility over non-navigable, intrastate lands and waters. The U.S. Supreme Court has twice rejected the agencies’ attempts to expand their authority (in Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v. Army Corps of Engineers and Rapanos v. United States). However, this latest rule written by the two administrative agencies gives them virtually limitless power over these waters.

The complaint asks a federal judge to declare the rule illegal and issue an injunction to prevent the agencies from enforcing it. It also asks the judge to order the agencies to draft a new rule that complies with the law and honors States’ rights.

Similar complaints were also filed on June 29, 2015 in Bismarck, N.D., Columbus, Ohio and Houston, Texas involving eighteen other states challenging the same rule.

A copy of the complaint can be accessed here.




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