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A federal judge has granted a preliminary injunction against the EPA, stopping a controversial water regulation in 13 states. The states in question are suing to stop the new water rule, which would violate private property rights and substantially harm individuals and businesses alike. The injunction stops the EPA from enforcing its rule until the results of the lawsuit are decided.
The Waters of the United States rule classifies a wide variety of ground water as subject to regulation under the Clean Water Act, and would extend the EPA’s authority to things like dry creek beds, ponds, and ditches on private property. This means that the EPA could prevent landowners from developing their own property if it deems a ditch to be environmentally important.
It’s an example of vast overreach by an unelected, unaccountable executive agency. And since the bureaucrats at the EPA have no incentive to listen to voters or taxpayers, it’s fortunate that the courts have intervened and, for now, appear to be seeing reason. The judge in the case, Ralph Erickson of the North Dakota District Court, said that he believe the states are likely to succeed in their challenge, and that they stand to face legitimate harm in the absence of court intervention.
“Once the rule takes effect, the states will lose their sovereignty over intrastate waters that will then be subject to the scope of the Clean Water Act,” Erickson wrote. He’s put his finger on the heart of the matter. Not only will states give up their sovereignty to the federal government in direct violation of the Tenth Amendment, but individuals will lose their sovereignty as well.
Unfortunately, the Obama administration is planning to press ahead with the regulation in the other 37 states that did not seek an injunction. Ideally, the 13 suing states will be successful, and that will motivate the others to fight back against the EPA as well. Once a pattern of resistance is established, it becomes easier for others to follow, and once we demonstrate that the EPA is not all powerful, it enhances our ability to combat future regulations.
For too long, government has forced landowners to surrender their property rights for the so called “common good.” It is both encouraging and refreshing to see the courts fulfilling their duty and protecting the rights of American citizens against a government that has far exceeded its authority. We’ll be keeping an eye on this story as it develops and will be sure to let you know what you can do to protect your property from the meddling EPA.