Andrew Bailey
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Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey Files Suit Against Biden Administration’s Overreaching WOTUS Rule

Home 9 Press Release 9 Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey Files Suit Against Biden Administration’s Overreaching WOTUS Rule
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – In an effort to enforce the laws as written, Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey filed suit with 23 other attorneys general against the Biden administration’s “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule that attempts to unconstitutionally expand federal authority over water throughout the country. The lawsuit asserts that President Biden’s interpretation of WOTUS “goes beyond the power Congress delegated in the Clean Water Act, raises serious constitutional concerns, and runs roughshod over the Administrative Procedure Act.”

“I want to enforce the laws as written, which includes ensuring that the Biden administration can’t enact rules whenever it wants without express congressional authority,” said Attorney General Bailey. “Our nation was founded on the idea of the separation of powers, and I will take any legal action necessary to protect the rights of Missouri farmers from being encroached upon by unelected federal bureaucrats who attempt to illegally expand their authority.”

“Our office fully supports Attorney General Bailey’s lawsuit against the Biden Administration as we fight back against their radical climate agenda,” Governor Mike Parson said. “The lawsuit seeks to protect Missouri farmers, ranchers, and business owners and achieve clearer guidance and more commonsense definitions on what regulated waters actually are and should be for communities across the state. Missouri’s agriculture community is lucky to have Attorney General Bailey fighting on their behalf, and we know he’ll do everything he can to support them, fight for them, and win for them.”

“Missouri Farm Bureau appreciates the legal action taken by Attorney General Bailey to push back against the Biden Administration’s WOTUS Final Rule, which is a massive federal overreach on our farms and ranches,” said Missouri Farm Bureau President Garrett Hawkins. “Missouri farmers and ranchers want clean water and clear rules. The Biden Administration’s WOTUS rule will require landowners to hire teams of attorneys and consultants just to attempt to comply with this unworkable rule. MOFB appreciates the efforts of Attorney General Bailey to create regulatory certainty for Missouri’s farmers and ranchers.”

The Trump administration replaced the Obama administration’s controversial 2015 WOTUS rule with the Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR), which created a clear distinction between federal waters and waters subject to the sole control of the states, their governmental subdivisions, and tribes.

President Biden signed an executive order on his first day in office that began the process of rolling back the Trump administration reforms, which was finalized in December when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its new rule repealing the NWPR and repackaged the 2015 Obama rule. The new rule redefines “navigable waters” to include ponds, certain streams, ditches, and other bodies of water under the Clean Waters Act, as determined by the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers.

The attorneys general assert that the flawed and unlawful rule will affect farmers who will now need permission from the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to fill or dredge wetlands or waterways. Developers, miners and other property owners wishing to make use of their land will face implications, too.

“By implementing an overbroad and hopelessly vague scheme, the Agencies have toppled the cooperative federalism regime that Congress intended to protect in the CWA.  Core state sovereign interests can be subjugated to the desires of two federal administrative agencies, even as to remote, non-navigable, intermittent, ephemeral, and purely intrastate waters,” the lawsuit states. “Meanwhile, if the Final Rule is left in place, then ranchers, farmers, miners, homebuilders, and other landowners across the country will struggle to undertake even the simplest of activities on their own property without fear of drawing the ire of the federal government.  Landowning Americans of all stripes will thus be left with a choice: fight their way through an expensive and lengthy administrative process to obtain complex jurisdictional determinations and permits or face substantial civil and criminal penalties.”

The attorneys general ask the Court for a preliminary injunction to halt the Biden administration’s new WOTUS rule.

Joining Missouri in filing this lawsuit are the attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio ,Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

The lawsuit can be read here.