Attorney General Laxalt Sends Comment Letter to EPA Encouraging Collaboration on New Waters of the United States Rulemaking

June 20, 2017

Carson City, NV – Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt, who in 2015 successfully halted the EPA’s “Waters of the United States” rule in litigation brought by a multistate coalition, has sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt in response to the agency’s request for comments on a new rule. The letter, joined by 19 additional attorneys general, urges the EPA in its new rulemaking process to adopt a definition of “Waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act that preserves the important role of the States in protecting the nation’s water resources. The formerly written “Waters of the United States” rule, had it not been stayed as a result of Nevada’s litigation, would have imposed burdensome requirements on public and private entities, particularly impacting Western states.


“Now that two federal courts, in response to our lawsuits, have blocked the implementation of the harmful ‘Waters of the United States’ rule, the Environmental Protection Agency today has a tremendous opportunity to adopt a lawful rule that respects the States’ autonomy over intrastate bodies of water,” said Laxalt. “Our letter encourages the EPA to continue to engage with affected States so that an unlawful rule can be replaced with one that recognizes and preserves the rights and resources of individual States. I look forward to working with Administrator Pruitt on this important issue, and I am proud of my office’s efforts to ensure that Nevada has input in this rulemaking process.”


In June 2015, the EPA issued a “Waters of the United States” rule that purported to expand federal powers over State and local waters well beyond what Congress originally intended when it limited those powers to “navigable waters.” Later that month, AG Laxalt joined a bipartisan coalition of states suing to invalidate the rule. In August 2015, a U.S. District Court granted a preliminary injunction preventing the rule from taking effect in Nevada and other states. As a result of continued efforts in the multistate challenge, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit issued another order halting the implementation of the rule nationwide, noting that the rule has “pervasive nationwide impact” in expanding federal power over state and local waters across the nation.


Nevada is joined by 19 states in issuing this letter, including: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.


The letter sent to the Environmental Protection Agency is attached here. To view the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit’s decision, click here.