- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 7, 2015

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Mississippi has joined in a lawsuit challenging a rule that gives federal agencies authority to protect some streams, tributaries and wetlands under the Clean Water Act.

Attorney General Jim Hood announced the action in a news release Tuesday.

“The new rule has the potential of shifting primary regulatory responsibility over traditional state lands and waters from the states to the federal government. It gives unlawful federal power over the states, their citizens and property owners,” Hood said in a statement.

Hood said the lawsuit asks a federal judge to rule that the EPA has exceeded its authority under the Clean Water Act

The action challenges as unconstitutional the Environmental Protection Agency’s redefinition of the states’ streams, creeks, ponds and wetlands as the “waters of the United States.”



Texas, Louisiana and Indiana also are involved in the lawsuit.

Small bodies of water have always been under state jurisdiction.

According to the EPA, the waters affected would be only those with a “direct and significant” connection to larger bodies of water downstream that are already protected. It says the aim is to protect the waters from pollution and development and to safeguard drinking water.

The rule is a response to calls from the U.S. Supreme Court and Congress for the EPA to clarify which smaller waterways are protected. It takes effect Aug. 28.

“The rule’s broad definitions and complicated standards make it unrealistic to expect that the rule will be applied consistently across the nation,” Hood said.

“The resulting expansion of federal authority will require the states to establish water quality standards for miles of newly regulated waters, and force state agencies to devote more resources to permitting activities. Landowners, farmers in particular, will have to seek permits or face substantial fines and criminal enforcement actions,” he said.

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