Thursday, May 25, 2023 - 12:40 pm

BISMARCK, N.D. – North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum today applauded a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) used an overly broad interpretation of the Clean Water Act when establishing its new Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule.

North Dakota was one of 23 states that joined West Virginia in February in bringing a lawsuit against the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, asking a federal judge to declare the new WOTUS rule unlawful and vacate it. In April, U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Hovland granted a preliminary injunction blocking the implementation or enforcement of the new WOTUS rule.

In an opinion issued today in Sackett v. EPA, the Supreme Court found that the EPA’s interpretation “is inconsistent with the text and structure” of the Clean Water Act, adding, “Regulation of land and water use lies at the core of traditional state authority. An overly broad interpretation of the CWA’s reach would impinge on this authority.

“The Supreme Court has now affirmed what we’ve argued since the Biden administration resurrected this misguided Obama-era WOTUS rule – that the EPA overstepped its authority in trying to extend federal jurisdiction to nearly every stream, pond and wetland in the country,” Burgum said. “This ruling is a major victory for farmers and ranchers, the energy industry, housing developers and other landowners who need clarity and a common-sense interpretation of which wetlands should be covered by the Clean Water Act. We wholeheartedly agree with the Supreme Court’s opinion that ‘States can and will continue to exercise their primary authority to combat water pollution by regulating land and water use,’ because no one cares more about North Dakota’s land and water than the people who live here.”

The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers published the final WOTUS rule in the Federal Register on Jan. 18, repealing the definition of WOTUS that the Trump administration adopted in 2020 in its Navigable Waters Protection Rule. North Dakota is a co-leader in the lawsuit filed in February in U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota.

The 24 states involved in the lawsuit are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming. A federal judge previously granted an injunction blocking the new WOTUS rule in Idaho and Texas as well.