Wyoming Fights POTUS on WOTUS | Big Horn Basin Media

Wyoming Fights POTUS on WOTUS

Written by on February 20, 2023

The latest lawsuit against several federal agencies alleges revisions to the “waters of the U.S.” rule are more examples of federal overreach on public and private land.

Governor Mark Gordon has led Wyoming into a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) over the new revision of the “waters of the U.S.,” or W.O.T.U.S. rule. Wyoming is part of a 24-state coalition arguing that the rule is overly broad and an example of federal agency overreach. The new definition will subject additional Wyoming water features – including those on private land – to federal regulation.

Yellowstone River Panorama

Courtesy NPS & Neal Herbert

The lawsuit follows a joint letter to the President last month signed by 25 Republican Governors calling on the Biden administration to delay implementation of the rule while the U.S. Supreme Court considers a case related to the Clean Water Act.

Sackett v. E.P.A. has its origins back in 2004 when Michael and Chantell Sackett were forbidden from dumping fill on their property because wetlands on the property fell under the purview of the Clean Water Act. Arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court are expected to begin later this year.

The letter notes that the revised rule creates uncertainty for rural communities and hampers the ability of states to give clarity and consistency to businesses, farms, and individuals regarding the regulatory framework for water.

“It remains frustrating and deeply disturbing that the E.P.A. and Corps continue to ignore the voices of the states and their on-the-ground expertise when crafting this rule, which impacts the lives and livelihoods of so many Wyoming residents,” Governor Gordon said. “It is critical that we protect the rights of Wyoming private landowners and businesses from vague rules that make compliance difficult and costly.”

The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality and Wyoming Department of Agriculture recently sent letters to E.P.A. addressing the rule, noting the state’s support for a W.O.T.U.S. definition limiting federal regulatory authority.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota. Joining Wyoming in the lawsuit are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia.

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