Arizona and New Mexico Business Coalition Sues to Challenge EPA Rule

By Julie Murphree, Arizona Farm Bureau: A coalition of businesses and organizations filed a lawsuit this week in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona challenging the U.S. EPA’s new rule dramatically expanding the scope of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. The Arizona Mining Association (AMA), Arizona Farm Bureau, Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Arizona Rock Products Association, New Mexico Mining Association, New Mexico Chamber of Commerce & Industry, and New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau have joined forces to push their case.

 “It’s so important that we’re part of this coalition,” said Arizona Farm Bureau President Kevin Rogers. “Having personally taken EPA regulators to my farm to show them various topographical features. They could not tell me whether I would have to be regulated or not. They have gone too far with this rule especially in our arid southwest.”

Kelly Shaw Norton, President of the Arizona Mining Association, explained, “EPA’s new rule rests on the implausible idea that vast expanses of bone-dry, southwestern desert can be subject to intrusive federal regulation as ‘waters of the United States.’ The focus of this lawsuit will be the new rule’s definition of ‘tributary,’ which expands ‘waters’ jurisdiction based on the presence of certain topographical features that are ubiquitous in the arid southwest, even in areas where it has been decades or centuries since any water has actually flowed on the ground. What is worse, under the new rule, an agency official in Washington, DC, can deem an expanse of desert to be a ‘water of the United States’ even if relevant topographical features do not actually exist.”

Norton organized this broad coalition of affected southwest business groups to ensure that issues important to the arid west are front and center in efforts to rein in EPA’s dramatic overreach, and to protect southwestern businesses and landowners from unreasonable new regulatory burdens.

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