The lawsuits have begun over the government’s latest attempt to define “waters of the U.S.,” with New Mexico ranchers and Chesapeake Bay conservationists challenging the recently published rule.
The New Mexico Cattle Growers Association, while saying the new rule is better from their perspective than the Obama Administration’s 2015 rule, has nonetheless supplemented an earlier complaint against EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to add claims against the new regulations, which NMCG says sweep in isolated, nonnavigable waters used to water livestock and irrigate crops.
Among those waters are “intermittent nonnavigable tributaries” that occur frequently on private property that is used for a variety of purposes, including farming, ranching, roads, ditches, wells, pipelines, reservoirs and ponds,” the complaint says.
“The new rules let federal agencies control ponds, wetlands, and other property far removed from navigable waterways,” Pacific Legal Foundation attorney Tony Francois said. “These were never intended by Congress to be covered by the Clean Water Act.”
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation also has sued, saying the new definition “strips coverage from key waterbodies and wetlands that watershed science has demonstrated to have a significant nexus to downstream waters.” In addition, the final rule “removes all ephemeral streams from protection and requires wetlands to maintain a surface water connection to a traditionally navigable water, an interpretation previously rejected by the majority of the Supreme Court.”
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