Thirteen states requested that a federal court delay implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule on Monday. The rule would allow federal agencies to put select streams, wetlands and tributaries under the protection of federal law. Land owners and farmers are concerned that the rule could be applied to such small waterways as ditches or puddles.
North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem filed a lawsuit in June challenging the rule. Joining North Dakota in the suit were: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, South Dakota and Wyoming. Monday’s motion was filed by Stenehjem on behalf of all the defendants.
“The rule is perhaps the most controversial and widely objectionable rule that would usurp state and local control over vast reaches of water in North Dakota and across the nation,” Stenehjem said. “It is an unnecessary and unlawful power grab by the federal government that will do nothing to increase water quality in North Dakota.”Should Stenehjem’s motion for a preliminary injunction be denied, the rule would go into effect on Aug. 28. Additional lawsuits have been drafted by agricultural groups and businesses within eight district courts. The EPA and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers have made the request to consolidate the additional lawsuits to one district court.