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June 20, 2017

Media contact: Liz Brocker (701) 328-2213

BISMARCK, ND – Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem joined a 20-state coalition* in a letter asking the Environmental Protection Agency to preserve the States’ role in protecting the nation’s waters.

In the letter filed Monday in response to the EPA’s outreach for comments on its ongoing review of the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, the attorneys general offered suggestions on how the EPA can redefine the rule to better respect the States’ authority and Congress’s instruction.

“I have said from the beginning that the WOTUS Rule is unlawful and significantly impinges upon the States’ authority as the primary regulators of land and water resources within their borders,” Stenehjem said. “North Dakota already provides legal protection for all of the waters in the state, and the WOTUS rule adds massive federal bureaucracy without doing anything to increase water protection.”

In 2015, Stenehjem successfully challenged the WOTUS rule’s implementation in federal district court, blocking the rule from taking effect in ND.  In that case, Judge Erickson ruled that it appeared the EPA had violated its authority in promulgating WOTUS. The US Court of Appeals later halted the rule’s implementation nationwide, finding that the rule was likely unlawful. If implemented, the rule would have taken jurisdiction over natural resources from states and put it in the hands of federal agencies. This included almost any water body, such as isolated streams, hundred-year floodplains, and prairie potholes.

In the letter, the Attorneys General ask the EPA to establish a concrete definition of the term “waters of the United States” and to consider the active role each state already plays in safeguarding its waterways.

In addition to the Attorneys General letter, numerous state agencies, through the Governor’s office, also submitted comments specific to North Dakota’s concerns and emphasizing that any revised rule should respect the State’s role in regulating its waters.

* The other states are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Utah.

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Read the letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt

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