Business groups sue over Obama water rule

The Obama administration continues to be flooded with lawsuits over its new water regulations.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) and other groups announced a lawsuit Monday against the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) "Waters of the United States" rule. They are the latest industry groups challenging the rule, which looks to define which water bodies the government has the ability to regulate. 

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In a statement announcing their lawsuit, NFIB contended that the rule covers water bodies that go beyond what the EPA is legally allowed to regulate under the Clean Water Act.

“This is another example of the EPA getting impatient with the American people and their elected representatives and simply assuming the power that it wants,” said Karen Harned, the executive director of the NFIB Small Business Legal Center.  

“It doesn’t work that way under the Constitution.”

In a statement, a Chamber of Commerce official said the rule is “deeply flawed” and would hurt businesses, farmers and manufacturers. The groups, along with the Portland Cement Association and two Oklahoma-based Chambers of Commerce, sued the EPA in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma on Monday. 

“EPA's regulatory overreach harms American enterprise by creating a vague rule to be implemented within a technically complex, expensive and time-consuming permitting process that will cause unnecessary expense and delay, and force many of our members to walk away from valuable business ventures,” said William Kovacs, the Chamber of Commerce’s vice president of environment, technology and regulatory affairs. 

More than two dozen states have already sued against the rule, which officials filed in the Federal Register in June. The rule, from the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers, is designed to clarify which water bodies the government can regulate and protect from potential pollution.

Coal company Murray Energy has also sued over the rule, and in early July, twelve groups, including the National Association of Manufacturers and the American Farm Bureau Association, filed their own lawsuit against it.