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January 22, 2018

Media Contact: Liz Brocker (701) 328-2213

BISMARCK, ND - Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem applauds the US Supreme Court’s unanimous decision this morning recognizing that federal district courts have jurisdiction to hear legal challenges to the “Waters of the U.S.” Rule (WOTUS). “That Rule would greatly and unlawfully expand the federal government’s authority over North Dakota’s land and water resources and our state’s agricultural and natural resources and vastly limit legitimate state authority to control water pollution,” said Stenehjem.

Stenehjem leads a coalition of twelve states that obtained the first preliminary injunction against the WOTUS Rule in 2015, in a decision issued by the US District Court of the District of North Dakota that also accepted North Dakota’s argument that district courts have jurisdiction to hear challenges to the WOTUS Rule. Today’s Supreme Court decision upholds North Dakota’s position on the jurisdictional issue, reversing a ruling that challenges to the WOTUS Rule must be brought in federal appeals courts.

“This is a major victory for North Dakota and our economy,” said Stenehjem. “We have argued from the beginning that the District Court here in North Dakota is the proper place for this litigation. It is significant that the Supreme Court unanimously agreed with our position so we can continue our challenge to this unacceptable federal overreach,” he continued.

The Trump Administration has announced plans to reconsider the WOTUS Rule, and Attorney General Stenehjem appreciates those efforts. However, in the wake of today’s decision paving the way for legal challenges to the WOTUS Rule to proceed in federal district courts, Stenehjem stated it “is vitally important for North Dakota to obtain a final ruling in its case declaring that the WOTUS Rule is legally invalid and permanently enjoining implementation of the Rule.” Because the dispute over which court has jurisdiction has consumed nearly two years, Attorney General Stenehjem emphasized that he will ask the federal district court to resume North Dakota’s case as quickly as possible.

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