Op-ed: Federal Government Overreaches on Nevada Water

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From the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

Reading the rule, it is hard to tell what would not qualify as a federally regulated “water of the United States.” Rain-filled ditches and some irrigation channels may now be covered, as well as seasonal streams connected to navigable waters only once a century. If that wasn’t enough, the agencies created a new category for “other waters,” allowing them to exert jurisdiction on a case-by-case basis.

The only waters that will clearly escape federal embrace are those included in the rule’s short list of exemptions. “Puddles” made the cut. But the fact that puddles even needed an exemption demonstrates how broad the federal definitions are.

These interpretations may seem like legal jargon, and they are, but they have the potential to produce a host of practical problems. For newly covered waters, individuals must spend time and resources to secure onerous pollutant discharge permits, and local authorities will need to further regulate these so-called “waters of the United States.”

Read the Rest...



Carson City, NV – Today, Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt filed suit on behalf of Nevada challenging the new federal “Waters of the United States” rule. Nevada joins a bipartisan coalition of 13 states suing to invalidate the rule. The new rule would expand federal powers over state and local waters well beyond what Congress originally intended when it limited these powers to “navigable waters.” The rule drastically increases the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (Corps) control over land and water resources across the nation by imposing burdensome requirements on public and private entities. Western states would be particularly impacted by the regulations.

“I will fight for Nevada each time President Obama attempts to unilaterally ‘transform’ this country through expansive and unconstitutional new interpretations of decades-old laws. My office has pledged a commitment to protecting our state from unreasonable federal overreach and will continue to do so at every opportunity,” said Attorney General Laxalt.

The U.S. Supreme Court has twice rejected attempts by the EPA and the Corps to assert authority over various bodies of water. Ignoring the Court’s limitations, this new rule attempts to extend federal authority so broadly that small ponds, small streams that are generally dry, irrigation ditches, and even storm water ditches could fall under the authority of the federal government.

Last November, the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection (NDEP) sent a comment letter to the EPA and the Corps expressing concerns about the then-proposed rule. The Nevada Association of Counties, as well as individual Nevada counties, also sent letters expressing grave concerns about the federal rule.

“This is the latest power grab by this presidential administration to expand federal oversight into areas that are better managed by state and local governments,” said Laxalt. “Congress directed that the states retain their sovereign authority over state land and water resources. The ‘Waters of the United States’ rule would grant the EPA authority over areas properly regulated by state and local governments. This expansive new rule is particularly problematic for states like Nevada, whose specific needs cannot be understood by federal agencies such as the EPA, with its one-size-fits-all approach to regulation.”

Nevada is joined by the following states: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

In addition to Nevada’s suit, other multistate coalitions are challenging the new federal rule in different federal courts around the nation. To view Nevada’s filed complaint, click here.

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