Thirteen states sue EPA, Army Corps of Engineers over definition of waterways

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. —  Thirteen states filed a lawsuit June 29 against the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers over the agencies’ rule defining “waters of the United States.” (link opens .pdf of complaint)

The states joining the lawsuit are Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

The lawsuit claims the new rule “unlawfully expands the agencies’ jurisdiction over state land and water resources beyond the limits established by Congress under the Clean Water Act,” and increase the federal government’s authority to control land use.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster said the agencies’ official definition of “waters of the United States” extends the agencies’ regulation beyond what a reasonable person considers to be a waterway. The definition extends to lands within a 100-year floodplain — even if they are dry 99 out of 100 years.

“The EPA and the Army Corps have exceeded their legal authority in defining what constitutes U.S. waterways,” Koster said. “If this change becomes law, thousands of acres of privately owned land in Missouri will suddenly 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.”

The lawsuit, filed in United States District Court for the District of North Dakota, seeks an order declaring the rule is unlawful and prohibiting the agencies from implementing it.

Without such an order, the rule takes effect within 60 days.

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