Paxton asks federal judge to halt water rule in Texas

By David Yates | Sep 9, 2015

Attorney General Ken Paxton is asking a federal judge to halt the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s new water rule, which expands federal jurisdiction over “navigable waters” under the Clean Water Act.

The state filed a memorandum in support of motion for preliminary injunction Sept. 8 in the U.S. District Court for Southern Texas, Galveston Division.

The motion argues that the water rule violates the U.S. Constitution, federal law and U.S. Supreme Court precedent, and places immediate and costly burdens on landowners in Texas.

“This lawsuit is about reining in the EPA’s blatant overstep of federal authority,” said Paxton in a written statement.

“Their latest attempt to control private and public lands and waters puts all Texas property owners at risk, making everything from ditches to dry creek beds subject to costly federal regulation. We must protect Texans’ ability to use their own property, and my office will continue to fight the Obama Administration’s overly broad and unconstitutional water rule in court.”

According to a Paxton press release, the EPA’s actions are inconsistent with U.S. Supreme Court precedent in SWANCC v. Army Corps of Engineers and Rapanos v. U.S., in which the court ruled that the federal government exceeded its statutory authority by attempting to regulate areas never intended by Congress to be under federal jurisdiction.

The rule is contrary to the congressional intent of the Clean Water Act and infringes on the states’ ability to regulate their own natural resources.

As previously reported, Paxton filed a lawsuit against the EPA’s water rule on June 29, on behalf of Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. The case was stayed pending a jurisdictional decision regarding whether Texas’ case and similar cases in other federal districts should be consolidated.

A federal judge in North Dakota last month issued a preliminary injunction on the EPA’s water regulations, but limited that injunction to 13 states.

The final rule became effective Aug. 28.

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