From the Associated Press (James MacPherson) via The Durango Herald:
Thirteen states led by North Dakota and including Colorado filed a lawsuit Monday challenging an Obama administration rule that gives federal agencies authority to protect some streams, tributaries and wetlands under the Clean Water Act.
North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said the “Waters of the U.S.” rule by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers is a “federal power grab” that is “unnecessary and unlawful and will do nothing to increase water quality.”
The rule – a response to calls from the U.S. Supreme Court and Congress for the EPA to clarify which smaller waterways are protected – was published in the Federal Register on Monday and takes effect Aug. 28.
According to the EPA, the waters affected would be only those with a “direct and significant” connection to larger bodies of water downstream that are already protected. It says the aim is to protect the waters from pollution and development and to safeguard drinking water.
The EPA did not immediately respond to questions from The Associated Press.
Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman said in a news release, “Water is perhaps the most critical resource Colorado manages, and we do it very well. EPA’s rule creates more confusion than clarity and unreasonably expands the federal government’s regulatory reach into our backyards, our farmers’ crop land and our ranchers’ acreage.”
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Bismarck, asks for the rule to be thrown out. The other states involved are Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, South Dakota and Wyoming.
Republicans in Congress, and some Democrats, including North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, also have backed legislation to block the rules.
More Environmental Protections Agency coverage here.