TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Attorney General Pam Bondi today joined a bipartisan lawsuit challenging the federal government’s attempt to seize regulatory control over large categories of state waters. The joint lawsuit, filed in a federal district court in Georgia, is one of multiple lawsuits across the country filed by attorneys general in response to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ adoption of the final rule Clean Water Rule: Definition of Waters of the United States, which would supplant Florida’s constitutional right to govern much of its own state waters.
“Clean water and environmental protection issues are critical in our state and Florida is better suited than the federal government to establish the regulatory rules necessary to protect our unique waterways. We cannot allow Floridians to bear the brunt of these types of costly and burdensome federal regulations, which would have a significant negative impact on local government, business and households all across our state,” said Attorney General Bondi.
“I thank Attorney General Bondi and the other attorneys general for their leadership in defending states’ rights and holding the Obama Administration accountable for its federal overreach. The unconstitutional expansion of the EPA’s jurisdiction over the Waters of the United States not only infringes on states’ authority, but also, it threatens the sound environmental protection programs we have in place today,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam.
The rule broadens the definition of Waters of the United States to include intrastate waters such as minor creeks, roadside ditches, ponds, some wetlands, short-lived streams or any other area where water may flow once every 100 years; these bodies of water have long been the domain of state authority pursuant to the Clean Water Act. This expanded definition would have a unique and tremendous impact on Florida specifically, given our state’s vast amount of wet lands and agriculture.
Besides the explicit authority given to states to regulate non-navigable, intrastate waters by the Clean Water Act, the United States Supreme Court also ruled on multiple occasions, that states, not the federal government, have regulatory authority over these waters.
These multiple legal challenges are crucial in preserving states’ rights and state waters, and stopping federal overreach. Today’s lawsuit asks the court to declare the rule illegal, issue an injunction to prevent the federal government from enforcing it and order a new rule drafted that complies with the law and honors states’ rights.