A group of 24 states has filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), asserting that a newly implemented environmental regulation is unlawful and would have detrimental effects on their residents.
The lawsuit was filed in a federal court on Thursday. The states claim that the regulation targets farmers and landowners and is in violation of the law.West Virginia, Georgia, Iowa, and North Dakota are leading a group of 24 states in the lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The lawsuit claims that the recently introduced Waters of the United States (WOTUS) regulation, which was revealed in December, undermines the states’ jurisdiction over water bodies and the surrounding land. The lawsuit specifically targets the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers, who were responsible for approving the regulation.
On Thursday, West Virginia Attorney General Morrisey said, “This new final rule is a decades-long effort by the EPA to regulate purely intrastate waters without the explicit consent of Congress. This is yet another attempt from unelected bureaucrats to expand their own authority by broadly defining Waters of the United States.”
He continued, “This is a textbook case of federal overreach. It’s a crazy rule and completely contravenes the Constitution and the way we think the structure of our federal and state government relations should operate. In the rule, EPA asserts federal jurisdiction over land and water that has no connection to navigable waters. This goes beyond what the statute provides in the Constitution.”
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved the WOTUS regulation on the last working day of 2022, which would be enforced in March. The rule aims to regulate wetlands, lakes, ponds, streams, and permanent waterways, similar to the pre-2015 regulation that was established during the Obama administration to address water pollution. According to EPA Administrator Michael Regan, the new rule will protect the nation’s waters.
However, a coalition of 24 states, led by West Virginia, Georgia, Iowa, and North Dakota, filed a federal lawsuit against the Biden administration, arguing that the regulation is unlawful and infringes on their authority to regulate bodies of water and surrounding land.
The Trump administration had relaxed federal protections on water sources that it deemed not requiring federal oversight, by reversing the Obama-era rules. However, a federal court overturned the reversal in 2021.
Many have expressed concerns about the potential negative impacts of the proposed WOTUS rule. They claim that it could cause confusion and impose regulatory burdens, resulting in Americans being fined or even facing imprisonment for making changes to their own property. These concerns prompted House Republicans to sign a letter urging the EPA to revoke the regulation.