27 states challenge Obama water rule in court

27 states challenge Obama water rule in court
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Nine states sued the Obama administration Tuesday over its rule asserting power over small waterways like streams and wetlands, bringing the total number of states challenging the regulation to 27.

The lawsuit filed in a Savannah, Ga., federal court by state leaders in South Carolina and other states follows a trio of cases filed Monday by 18 other states.

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The states in Tuesday’s lawsuit argue, similarly to those in the other cases, that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) violated the Clean Water Act, other laws and Supreme Court decisions when it declared that tributaries and other small waters are subject to federal jurisdiction and pollution control laws.

“The results of this rule will carry a tremendous cost to our state, our economy, and our families,” South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson said in a Tuesday statement.

“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,” he said.

The states joining South Carolina are West Virginia, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Utah and Wisconsin.

The EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers announced the final rule last month, with the goal of better clarifying which small water bodies like ponds, headwater and wetlands fall under federal power, a designation that could require permits for anything that harms or pollutes the water.

While the Clean Water Act gives federal officials power over navigable waters, the government has long recognized that a certain amount of upstream water must also be covered to protect the larger features.

The rule, dubbed “waters of the United States,” was published Monday in the Federal Register, a step that both made it official and opened it up for litigation.

Since they’re challenging the same regulation, the federal court system is likely to combine all four lawsuits into one.

Monday’s lawsuits came from Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Ohio, Michigan, Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana.