Okla. AG files separate lawsuit against EPA over proposed water rule

By Jessica Karmasek | Jul 10, 2015


OKLAHOMA CITY (Legal Newsline) - Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt this week filed his own lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency, challenging a proposed rule that would extend the federal agency’s authority to all bodies of water.

Pruitt, in his complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma Wednesday, alleges that the EPA’s broad redefinition under the “Waters of the United States” rule is executive overreach and flatly contrary to the will of Congress.

Under the proposed rule, the agency’s authority would extend to almost all bodies of water, no matter the size or frequency.

“This regulation usurps the State’s authority over its land and water use, and triggers numerous and costly obligations under the [Clean Water] Act for the State and its citizens,” the attorney general wrote in his 24-page complaint.

The lawsuit alleges that the proposed rule places virtually all land and water under an “untenable” regulatory burden.

The EPA’s regulatory jurisdiction has historically been limited to the “navigable waters” -- a term that has always been understood to include only large bodies of water capable of serving as pathways for interstate commerce, Pruitt argues.

The attorney general contends “this expansion of federal authority” is in direct conflict with the Clean Water Act, exceeds the government’s authority under the Commerce Clause and violates the Administrative Case Procedure Act.

Pruitt is seeking an order vacating the final rule and enjoining its enforcement.

“Respect for private property rights have allowed our nation to thrive, but with the recently finalized rule, farmers, ranchers, developers, industry and individual property owners will now be subject to the unpredictable, unsound and often byzantine regulatory regime of the EPA,” he said in a statement.

“I, and many other local, state and national leaders across the country, made clear to the EPA our concerns and opposition to redefining the ‘Waters of the U.S.’ However, the EPA’s brazen effort to stifle private property rights has left Oklahoma with few options to deter the harm that its rule will do.”

Click here to read Pruitt’s entire complaint.

Late last month, two groups of state attorneys general filed separate lawsuits against the EPA over the proposed water rule in a Georgia federal court and North Dakota federal court.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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