ST. PAUL – Rep. Dale Lueck, R-Aitkin, and 11 other House members from Greater Minnesota are challenging the federal Environmental Protection Agency's new rulemaking authority over "navigable" waterways in the state.
The group has sent a letter to state Attorney General Lori Swanson, asking her to add Minnesota to the growing coalition of states opposing expanded rulemaking authority under the Waters of the United States Rule and the Clean Water Act. The House members indicate the EPA's new authority – set to go into effect Aug. 28 – would exceed constitutional powers and greatly expand federal authority over state waters.
"Our elected officials in Washington DC have clearly failed to stand up for Minnesota on this issue." Lueck said. "We are fully capable of effectively regulating our vast water resources. Unfortunately today because our elected representatives in Washington DC continue to knuckle under to the bureaucrats at EPA, we are left with no choice but to ask the federal court to stop this grievous abuse of federal rule making authority."
To date, more than half of the nation's states have filed a lawsuit against the EPA. Neighboring states Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota, also are included on the list of states bringing this issue to a federal court.
The full letter, issued July 21, reads as follows:
Attorney General Swanson,
We are writing to encourage you to add Minnesota to the growing coalition of states challenging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S Army Corps of Engineers' expanded powers under the new Waters of the United States rule and Clean Water Act (CWA). Minnesota has a proud history of protecting our environment here at the state level. The significantly expanded scope of federal power under EPA rulemaking will undermine state regulatory authority, as well as cut out the voices of small businesses, state leaders, farmers and other individuals in our communities.
This new rule, set to go into effect August 28, redefines virtually all waters in the country, expanding the scope of federal authority to include seasonal streams, wetlands, ponds and ditches—a far expansion from navigable waters as defined under the CWA. This far reaching broadening of federal authority will create significant economic risk and uncertainty for agriculture and other businesses in our state. Furthermore, our state already has laws regulating and protecting these bodies of water, and the federal government usurping that jurisdiction from elected state leaders and local officials will in effect take away the flexibility to manage our waters as we best see fit, in addition to increasing the burdensome and complicated regulations on Minnesota citizens.
We respectfully ask that you add Minnesota to the growing list of states challenging the EPA's rulemaking authority in a federal court of law. By adding Minnesota as a plaintiff, we will be a strong voice for states' rights and hopefully, help stop the alarming expansion of federal authority over state waters.
Thank you for your time and attention to this matter. We look forward to your response.
The letter was signed by 12 Minnesota House members, including Reps. Dan Fabian, Steve Green, Jeff Backer, Dave Hancock, Jason Rarick, Peggy Bennett, Dave Baker, Deb Kiel, Tim Miller, Dale Lueck, Brian Daniels and Josh Heintzeman.