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AG Labrador Sues EPA and Biden Administration to Stop New Rule Violating State Water Rights

[BOISE] – Idaho Attorney General Raúl Labrador, along with attorneys general from North Dakota, Alaska, Iowa, Nebraska, South Carolina, and South Dakota, sued the EPA and the Biden Administration to protect state rights over their water and wildlife resources. Idaho and North Dakota are leading the coalition of states, which filed their complaint in the U.S. District Court in the District of North Dakota. 

The EPA’s new rule—dubbed the Tribal Reserved Rights rule—forces states to prioritize tribal claims over the rights of their citizens. The EPA claims authority under the Clean Water Act to require states to protect so-called “tribal reserved rights”—a concept that the federal government has never been able to consistently define—in designating uses for state waters and setting water quality standards.

But as the name implies, the Clean Water Act is about preventing water pollution; it has nothing to do with guaranteeing alleged tribal rights involving state waters, like the right to ceremonial practices or the right to fish or hunt for preferred species at preferred levels.

The Final Rule clearly exceeds the authority established by Congress.

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“The Biden Administration’s EPA must be held accountable for their unconstitutional overreach into the management of state resources and relationships,” said Attorney General Labrador. “Idaho has 3100 miles of navigable waterways—more than any other state in the lower 48 and the CWA does not strip Idaho of its right to manage our rivers effectively. In fact, contrary to the EPA’s new rule, the CWA preserves state authority over its water resources.”

The states are aggressively defending their rights and are asking the federal court to enjoin, and ultimately vacate, the new rule. Litigation is ongoing in this matter, so stay tuned.

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