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February 28, 2017

Media Contact: Liz Brocker (701) 328-2213

BISMARCK, ND – Earlier this afternoon, President Trump signed an executive order directing the US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Army Corps Engineers to review their rule defining “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS Rule) under the Clean Water Act.

“The current WOTUS Rule was one of many attempts by the previous administration to expand federal reach over issues that are primarily reserved to the States,” said Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem.  “I am pleased that the president has instructed the federal agencies to revise or rescind this unlawful rule,” he continued.

The highly unpopular WOTUS Rule is the subject of multiple lawsuits seeking to vacate it, including a lawsuit led by Stenehjem filed in federal district court in North Dakota.  North Dakota and the 11 other states participating in the lawsuit argued that the EPA’s rule wrongly broadened federal authority by placing the management of a majority of water and land resources in the hands of the federal government, and that the burdens created by the new EPA requirements on waters and lands would be harmful to the States and would negatively affect farmers, developers, and landowners.

Although there has been no ruling yet on the merits, courts have stopped the EPA from implementing the WOTUS Rule.  In the North Dakota case, Judge Erickson issued a preliminary injunction blocking the rule from taking effect.  In his order, he agreed that North Dakota and the other states were “likely to succeed on the merits of their claim that the EPA has violated its grant of authority.”  Shortly after, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals similarly blocked the federal agencies from implementing the rule during the litigation.

“I look forward to working with the federal agencies on developing a rule that makes sense, complies with the Clean Water Act, and recognizes states’ rights to control their own water resources,” said Stenehjem.

Stenehjem and other Attorneys General attending the winter meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General in Washington, DC, met with President Trump at the White House this morning.

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