Waters of the U.S. pushback continues with U.S. Chamber lawsuit

Waters of the U.S. pushback continues with U.S. Chamber lawsuit

U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business organizations bring lawsuit against the EPA and Army Corps over WOTUS

Five business organizations including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have joined the deluge of interests pushing back on the Waters of the U.S. rule with legal force.

The groups, the National Federation of Independent Business, Portland Cement Association, State Chamber of Oklahoma and Tulsa Regional Chamber, along with the U.S. Chamber, say the Waters of the U.S. rule made by the Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. EPA "would dramatically expand the areas regulated under the Clean Water Act."

They filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma on July 10 as an effort to prevent the rule from moving forward.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business organizations bring lawsuit against the EPA and Army Corps over WOTUS

"Two weeks ago, the EPA adopted the deeply flawed WOTUS rule, ignoring flaws identified by the business community, farmers and agriculture leaders, manufacturers, and other vital stakeholders," said U.S. Chamber Senior Vice President of Environment, Technology, & Regulatory Affairs William Kovacs.

"By redefining what constitutes a 'water of the United States' the agency sidestepped the Clean Water Act, Administrative Procedure Act, and the U.S. Constitution," Kovacs said.

Related: EPA releases final Waters of the U.S. rule

The lawsuit alleges that the EPA's WOTUS rule disrupts the careful balance Congress set forth in the Clean Water Act, which gives the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers the authority to regulate "navigable waters," but specifically preserves the primary role of the States in planning the development and use of land and water resources.

Further, the groups say the Agencies failed to comply with their statutory obligation to assess the economic harm numerous industries and small businesses will suffer because of the regulation.

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"The EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers failed to conduct any meaningful regulatory or economic impact analyses prior to issuing the final rule. EPA's regulatory overreach harms American enterprise by creating a vague rule to be implemented within a technically complex, expensive and time-consuming permitting process that will cause unnecessary expense and delay, and force many of our members to walk away from valuable business ventures," Kovacs added.

The lawsuit is the latest in a line of cases brought by 27 different states against the rule. States' complaints also ask for federal judges to overturn the rule and form a new rule with the assistance of agriculture, construction and business interests.

The groups' and states' challenges add to existing challenges from lawmakers; The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in June approved a bill to rewrite the WOTUS rule, while the House in May also approved a WOTUS withdraw bill with a 261-155 vote.

The rule is also met with significant opposition from ag groups, which long fought for its elimination, even before the final rule was released.


Catch a legal perspective on the rule with ag attorney Gary Baise's "Inside EPA's Waters of the U.S. Ruling" series:
Part one: What you should know about the EPA ruling
Part two: Understanding 'significant nexus'
Part three: Does this impact private property rights?
Part four: The government's boundless appetite for regulation
Part five: Confusion over exclusions


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