Today we filed our complaint in the Federal District Court of Minnesota challenging the Corps and EPA’s extreme rule redefining “waters of the United States” subject to federal control under the Clean Water Act, and other laws. The case is entitled Washington Cattlemen’s Association, et al. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, et al,. You can read our press release here.
We represent ranchers, farmers and private parties from 5 different states arguing the new rule violates the Clean Water Act itself, as interpreted by the Supreme Court, and exceeds federal power under the Constitution. The new rule covers virtually all waters in the U.S. and much of the land,extending to every tributary of a “navigable water,” isolated pools and potholes, the 100-year flood plain covering millions of stream miles, and, on a case-by-case basis, any water within 4,000 feet of a tributary. The exemptions are so narrow as to be laughable, if the agencies even honor them.
By redefining waters subject to federal control throughout the Nation, the Corps and EPA have defined their own power to regulate–a power that has no meaningful limits Under the Clean Water Act, the Corps and EPA can limit or prohibit the use of any water or property subject to their jurisdiction and back up their enforcement with ruinous fines ($37,500 a day for alleged violations) and even criminal prosecution. In an orderly society, no agency should be able to define its own power. That’s the role of Congress. In this case, the Corps and EPA have bypassed Congress and become a law unto themselves. By any measure, the new rule redefining “waters of the United States” is the biggest power gab in U.S. history and should be stricken. That’s what we are asking the court to do.