Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson joined attorneys general from 12 other states in a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over the EPA’s new rule defining “Waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act.

The case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota.

The states contend the new definition violates provisions of the Clean Water Act, the National Environmental Policy Act and the U.S. Constitution.

Some have characterized the law as a power grab by the federal government and said it includes every puddle in the United States.   

In a news release, Peterson said, “Farmers, ranchers, and landowners will find it difficult to operate without added permits and additional obstacles.”

According to Peterson, the new rule greatly expands and brings numerous isolated bodies of water under the jurisdiction of the EPA and Corps with the result that landowners will have to seek additional federal permits or face substantial fines and federal criminal enforcement actions.

“It is the individual states that are primarily responsible to regulate land and water resources and the new regulations are not based on true environmental concerns, but merely try to expand federal authority on private land owners,” he said in the news release.

The states are seeking to have the rule vacated and the EPA and Corps enjoined from enforcing the new definition of “waters of the United States.” 

Participating in the filing are Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.