Attorney General Laxalt Files Suit Challenging Federal Overreach in New “Waters of the United States” Rule

June 29, 2015

Carson City, NV – Today, Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt filed suit on behalf of Nevada challenging the new federal “Waters of the United States” rule. Nevada joins a bipartisan coalition of 13 states suing to invalidate the rule. The new rule would expand federal powers over state and local waters well beyond what Congress originally intended when it limited these powers to “navigable waters.” The rule drastically increases the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (Corps) control over land and water resources across the nation by imposing burdensome requirements on public and private entities. Western states would be particularly impacted by the regulations.

    “I will fight for Nevada each time President Obama attempts to unilaterally ‘transform’ this country through expansive and unconstitutional new interpretations of decades-old laws. My office has pledged a commitment to protecting our state from unreasonable federal overreach and will continue to do so at every opportunity,” said Attorney General Laxalt.

      The U.S. Supreme Court has twice rejected attempts by the EPA and the Corps to assert authority over various bodies of water. Ignoring the Court’s limitations, this new rule attempts to extend federal authority so broadly that small ponds, small streams that are generally dry, irrigation ditches, and even storm water ditches could fall under the authority of the federal government.

        Last November, the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection (NDEP) sent a comment letter to the EPA and the Corps expressing concerns about the then-proposed rule. The Nevada Association of Counties, as well as individual Nevada counties, also sent letters expressing grave concerns about the federal rule.

          “This is the latest power grab by this presidential administration to expand federal oversight into areas that are better managed by state and local governments,” said Laxalt. “Congress directed that the states retain their sovereign authority over state land and water resources. The ‘Waters of the United States’ rule would grant the EPA authority over areas properly regulated by state and local governments. This expansive new rule is particularly problematic for states like Nevada, whose specific needs cannot be understood by federal agencies such as the EPA, with its one-size-fits-all approach to regulation.”

            Nevada is joined by the following states: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

              In addition to Nevada’s suit, other multistate coalitions are challenging the new federal rule in different federal courts around the nation. To view Nevada’s filed complaint, click here.