Nebraska joins other states to fight new WOTUS rule

LINCOLN, Nebraska (Nebraska Examiner). On Thursday, Nebraska joined 24 other states in a lawsuit against the Biden administration’s new rule defining the so-called United States Waters, or WOTUS.

The multi-state coalition said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers were rushing to release the new rule, though the Supreme Court is expected to make a key decision on the scope of WOTUS in a few weeks.

Nebraska Attorney General Mike Hilgers, in a statement announcing Nebraska’s role in the lawsuit, said the new rule would be detrimental to farmers who may need to get permission from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Corps of Engineers to fill or drench wetlands. or waterways, depending on whether those features fall within the purview of the federal government.

Nebraska Attorney General Mike Hilgers (Courtesy of Nebraska Attorney General)

Felt farmers, house builders

Similarly, developers, home builders, miners and other property owners face consequences when they make changes or improvements to their land, he said in a statement.

“If the final rule remains in place, then ranchers, farmers, miners, home builders, and other landowners across the country will struggle to perform even the simplest of activities on their property without fear of incurring the wrath of the federal government.” according to the coalition’s lawsuit.

It goes on to say, “Thus, land-owning Americans of all stripes will be left with a choice: fight their way through a costly and lengthy administrative process to obtain complex jurisdictional determinations and permits, or face severe civil and criminal sanctions.”

The final rule follows a years-long process of defining the geographic scope and authority of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Corps of Engineers to regulate streams, wetlands and other bodies of water under the Clean Water Act.

Extended battle

The Obama administration in 2015 sought to clarify which waters on private property could be regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Corps of Engineers. The Trump administration replaced the WOTUS rule with the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, which was finalized in 2020 and significantly narrowed down what could be included.

President Biden expanded the rule again.

Notably, Hilgers’ statement says the new rule redefines “navigable waters” to include ponds, certain streams, ditches and other bodies of water under the Clean Water Act as defined by the EPA and the Corps of Engineers.

The coalition also includes Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia . , West Virginia and Wyoming.

The states have announced a motion for a preliminary injunction to stop the Biden administration’s new WOTUS rule while it is in litigation.

The Nebraska Examiner is part of Newsroom States, a network of newsrooms supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. The Nebraska Examiner maintains editorial independence. For questions, please contact editor Keith Folsom: [email protected]. Follow Nebraska Examiner on Facebook and Twitter.

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